All posts by Johnny Prime

Horton’s Jerky

I took this bag of jerky down at the airport while my wife and I were waiting for a delayed flight.

It was a bit tough, unfortunately. I think much of the meat was flank or skirt, which is fine, but it just wasn’t very tender and the fat didn’t soften up too much. It was kinda dry too, and made my jaw muscles hurt to tear and chew at it so much.

Anyway, I’ll carry the rest of this over from my Biltong USA review as well, just so you can see the pics and get the full context:

When my wife and I went to Savannah, we saw this sign and absolutely had to investigate.

It turns out they were selling a lot of Buffalo Bob’s products, and I’ve pretty much tried every single one of them already.

I was somewhat bummed until I saw two other meat snack brands that I hadn’t tried yet. The first was Biltong USA, and the second was this brand, Horton’s, which was local out of Georgia.

Biltong USA

When my wife and I went to Savannah, we saw this sign and absolutely had to investigate.

It turns out they were selling a lot of Buffalo Bob’s products, and I’ve pretty much tried every single one of them already.

I was somewhat bummed until I saw two other meat snack brands that I hadn’t tried yet. The first was Biltong USA, and the second was Horton’s, a local brand out of Georgia.

I had always been curious about Biltong, a popular African meat snack that is similar to beef jerky, only sliced differently. As you can see it is lived in such a way that makes for a more tender eating experience than many styles of jerky.

I really liked this product, and will definitely be buying it again in any flavors I can find. This one was garlic flavored. Delicious.

Meet Your Meat: “Suzy Sirloin” Strassburger

Like all great businesses, there’s usually a great story behind the success. Let’s take Strassburger Steaks, for example.

A girl brings her father a homemade sandwich to the family’s beef plant in the Bronx – I’m guessing roast beef with horseradish sauce on a nice crusty roll. There, she meets her future husband, who is working as her father’s right-hand man. Over 150 years later, that family still prides itself on the traditions of dedicated daughters and great steak.

Suzanne “Suzy Sirloin” Strassburger and her sister Andrea work with their father, who has passed down to them five generations of work ethic along with a successful and well-respected business. In the story above, the father is Suzy’s great-great grandfather, and the daughter is her great grandmother.

Suzy and Andrea’s own father, Peter “T-Bone” Strassburger, is an innovator and leader in the industry. He started boxed beef in New York (wholesale cuts of beef, like rib and loin, individually packaged and placed into boxes for shipping), and he educated many steakhouses on the virtues of aged beef. In fact, his family was the first to install an aging room in their plant.

Strassburger is no joke when it comes to quality. The company supplies meat to several of my top ranked steakhouses, including Angus ClubKeen’s, Quality Italian and Quality Meats. You may have seen the name gracing menus all over the place. Their brand is worth featuring.

The Prime Rib at Keen’s Steakhouse

But in addition to supplying prime, dry-aged beef to high-end NYC restaurants, Strassburger also sells steaks online at the consumer level. And now Suzanne is also promoting her brand “Suzy Sirloin” to grocery stores around the city. With this venture, she is moving pork and all natural, hormone-free beef as a way to diversify. Smart!

The Porterhouse at Angus Club Steakhouse

She has a knack for marketing, too. It’s not often you see a woman walking around Manhattan in a big straw cowboy hat, but that’s Suzy’s signature accessory, and it’s even featured as part of her “Suzy Sirloin” logo.

She has said that she wears the hat as a sign of respect to all the hard working ranchers that produce the beef she sells. Right on! I can get on board with that.

Suzy is also a fellow Masters of Beef Advocacy graduate and Top of the Class trainee, like me, so we both like to blab about the benefits of beef, both for society in general and as part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet. You can check out her blog here, but she also founded The Sirloin Report, to which I’ve linked in the past.

I had a chance to interview her on the phone. We started from a string of 10 questions, and chatted from there. Read on below and enjoy! I’ve done my best to distill our conversations down to all the best bits of information.

1) When did you realize you wanted to work in the meat business? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do, or did it take some time to grow on you?

I knew immediately that I wanted to work in the business from the age of three or four.  I always thought it was cool that when I asked my dad what he did, he’d respond that he worked for Poppa [Suzy’s grandfather]. Any day off that I had from school, I would be at the family meat factory helping out, answering phones, anything I could do.

Suzy went to college and started working professionally at the company around age 24. She worked literally every job in the business; putting together boxes, packing the boxes, you name it. This allowed her to really understand the challenges faced by each employee. She even worked beside guys in the cooler who had been there since her grandfather was running the place.

Suzy talked a lot about her family’s five and six generations in the meat business (both of her dad’s parents had beef industry families), and a lot about her dad.

Suzy has had some great success, but she says that her dad is a tough act to follow. He had eight plants out west that produced 10 million pounds of beef per week. He was the first wholesaler to box beef and to dry age beef in NYC. He’s still working today at 78 years old, and he always encourages Suzy and her sister to work hard and keep learning. In fact, Suzy went back to school this year and is enrolled in a program at Harvard business school. She’s always staying current and continuing to learn.

2) What is a typical day of work like for you from start to finish?

My work changes from day to day depending on where the business needs me. Some days I’ll be buying, other days selling. I’m also the business’ problem solver, so I have to make sure that everything is coming together and running smoothly.

3) What are some of the challenges and rewards you experience working in this business?

While the work was more challenging when I was younger, assembling the right team and having the right people around really helped. My sister runs the most challenging aspect of the business, which is collections. As for the most rewarding aspect? Enjoying a delicious steak at a client’s establishment.

4) I know you supply one of my favorite restaurants, Keens, with its beef. Do you also supply them with their legendary mutton?

Suzy does not supply Keen’s with their mutton. She deals exclusively in beef.

5) How do your foodservice clients choose their beef? Do they rely on your selection, or do they choose the cuts themselves?

Both. Some clients wish to choose everything, while others have developed long and trusting relationships with my family and rely on our expertise.

Suzy also explained that this loyalty and trust goes in the other direction too, from her to her beef suppliers. When times get tough and beef is hard to come by or expensive, Suzy has long standing relationships in place that allow her to still get her hands on the best supply.

6) Do you find that your clients and customers are well versed in beef nutrition, safety and the various niche labels, or is that something about which you constantly have to educate?

Suzy is constantly educating people about beef. She and I both went through the MBA and Top of the Class programs with the NCBA, so she, like me, is constantly providing useful information to people, both client and consumer alike. But there’s one thing she likes to say about food safety:

Buy it cold, serve it hot and keep it clean!

7) Is there a particular region of the country or breed of cattle from which you like to source your beef? I know food trends are pushing hard for “local” products, but doesn’t the best quality beef come from the Midwest and Texas?

Suzy supports ranchers and farmers from all over. She tries to make sure the client is happy. Whatever the client wants to serve at their restaurant, she will help to make it happen.

8) How often do you interact with farmers, ranchers, and other producers before the beef gets to your operation?

The reason Suzy wears her cowboy hat all the time is because she believes that beef and her business is ultimately all about the ranchers and farmers. She visits ranches and farms often, and many of her close friends are ranchers, farmers and butchers. She surrounds herself with people who are working with the animals daily. Not only does Suzy understand what goes into beef production, but she respects the process and doesn’t take for granted what these hard working families do for the American food supply.

9) I’m a big fan of dry-aged beef. Do you find that any particular cuts take to this process better than others, and are there amounts of time that are too long or too short for producing good flavor?

We dry age middle meats like shells [bone-in strip loins], short loins [porterhouses and t-bones], and ribs. We typically age them for three to four weeks, but it really depends on what the customer or client wants.

After we chatted for a bit about her family’s important role in the world of dry-aged beef, Suzy astutely pointed out that no two aging rooms are alike. The way the beef turns out all depends on how often people walk in and out of the room, the air circulation, the lighting, temperature, humidity, etc.

10) What’s your favorite cut of beef and why? Grilled, smoked, or seared in a pan? And how often do you eat beef in any given week?

A grilled, prime, boneless New York strip steak is my favorite. And I eat beef 14 times a week.

WOW! Now that’s impressive!!!

NYC’s Best Steakhouse Bacon

Steakhouse bacon makes me smile.

Bacon is an important part of the steakhouse experience. After all, a slab of thick cut bacon is just as much a staple to the classic steakhouse meal as a side of creamed spinach, a plate of ice cold raw oysters, or a nice strong martini.

Devouring a plate of thick cut bacon before eating a steak is one of the most manly and satisfying things you can do. As such, I’ve endeavored to highlight the five best bacon dishes that NYC steakhouses have to offer.

Enjoy the selections, you savage beasts:

Delmonico’s Restaurant

These slabs are house smoked and cured, sous vide for days, and then rendered off to perfection with Tuthilltown Spirits’ Noble Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. At about an inch and a half thick per slab, you can almost order this as your main course and treat it like a “bacon steak.”

Greenwich Steakhouse

If you want a taste of something that’s slightly out of the ordinary but still satisfies your thick cut bacon fix, this is your place to go. This bacon has some kind of sweet chili glaze on it that separates it from all the rest on this list. It’s really unique, tender and crisp, but also really fucking thick (over an inch thick, so also big enough to eat as an entree). An absolute must try.

Benjamin Prime

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

If classic, thick, un-fucked-with bacon is what you’re after, then this is the place to get it. This is some amazingly crisp and tasty stuff. Also very thick at about an inch. What you get here is your standard morning breakfast bacon, but at a whopping portion that comes off the grill looking so beautiful. Fucking insanity.

Quality Eats

While not exactly a full-on steakhouse, this joint represents the bacon scene with mighty force. They serve this thick-cut Nueskes bacon with a peanut butter sauce and jalapeño jelly. This shit is like fucking crack to my taste buds. You need to try this if you haven’t done so already.

Angus Club Steakhouse

Another great entry in the classic style category, this “Canadian” slab bacon is legit. Usually when I hear the words “Canadian Bacon” I think of circular shaped stuff that tastes more like ham than bacon. Not here. The soft, buttery fat banding alternates perfectly with the lean meat on these grilled slabs. They are also nearly an inch thick, so you really get great satisfaction from this dish.

I’d love to hear your thoughts for other possible candidates. I briefly considered Keen’s, Peter Luger’s, Bob’s, Palm Too, Strip House, and Ben & Jack’s, but ultimately I felt that they just couldn’t stand up to these five. They’re just on another level.

Kobe Beef from Japan

So it happened… I got my hands on some real-deal Japanese Kobe beef! These are strip loin / New York strip steak cuts, to be precise. Click HERE for the product page in the shop.

I had my guys portion these out so that they’re not too insane on the wallet. Jump on them now and you can get 8oz for $100 (down from $125). Not too bad for the rarity of this beef.

I feel like a half pound is the perfect size for this (you can share with another person, too; 4oz each). Why such a small portion? Because it eats more like foie gras than beef. It’s so tender, so uniform in texture, so juicy, and so rich with delicious, melt-in-your-mouth fat, that you may want a reprieve after a few ounces.

You may want to mix up the textures with another cut. If that’s the case, my suggestion is this: grab one of these, one domestic wagyu strip, and one dry-aged prime porterhouse. Have yourself a taste-off and see which you like the best.

MY BUTCHER SHOP

180 Years of Awesomeness

If you don’t already know about Delmonico’s, then you’re missing out. For over a decade, I’ve gotten pissed off every time I’ve seen TV shows or news articles about steakhouses (both in NYC and throughout the country) that discussed a whole bunch of mediocre places without Delmonico’s even so much as being mentioned. I’m happy to see that trend is finally changing, and people are waking up.

Not only is this joint serving up some of the best steaks in town, but they were first. Yeah. That’s right, Peter Luger fans. This place was the first fine dining restaurant in America, opening its doors in 1837. They invented the “Delmonico” Steak (a boneless rib eye) and Delmonico Potatoes, obviously. But they also invented Chicken a la King, Baked Alaska, Lobster Newberg, Egg’s Benedict and Manhattan Clam Chowder.

It’s one thing to be first or to have been around a long time, but it’s quite another to be consistently top notch. While I’ve only been getting down on steaks for this blog for about six or seven years, I can honestly tell you that they’ve always been a top choice favorite of mine, sitting comfortably in my top three to five steakhouses for the entire time. Right now they are first on the leader board, at 97/100 points. The 45-day dry aged rib eye is one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten, and their bacon is hands down the best in the city. My full review base on several visits is HERE.

But anyway, on to the point of this article.

This month Delmonico’s is celebrating its 180th year in operation. Starting on 9/14 they’re offering 180-day dry aged bone-in rib eye steaks to mark the occasion. They’re being served on keepsake plates that you get to take home, featuring the artwork of New Yorker cartoonist John Donohue.

The steak is about 28oz of bone-in rib eye, and it’s magnificent. I was invited in to try it with some other steak connoisseurs.

It has a deep nutty and earthy funk to it, while still remaining juicy and tender. Chef Billy Oliva really nails it. This cut is being offered at $380 and is easily shareable, since you also will need to try some of their signature apps, sides and desserts when you go.

But that’s not all. The restaurant has also invited a bunch of well known chefs to create dishes that celebrate Delmonico’s 180th. This special tribute menu is available from 9/14 through 10/14.

I was able to try a few of these items as well (I focused mostly on the beef-centric dishes, though I did try some others). My favorites were as follows:

Chili Rubbed Rib Eye with White Corn Pudding, by Michael Lomonaco, Porter House.

This steak is in the vein of those cajun rib eye steaks you might see at Greenwich Steakhouse or Smith & Wollensky. It is truly delicious, and I highly recommend it if you’re not springing for Chef Billy Oliva’s 180-day dry aged rib eye.

Tournedos Rossini, by Paul Liebrandt, two Michelin starred chef, author and consultant.

That’s a massive, tender and juicy filet mignon sitting on a potato pancake and sautéed spinach, all topped by some foie gras. This is 100% pure decadence. Awesome dish.

Lobster Shepherd’s Pie, by Danny Meyer, Union Square Cafe.

Nine Herb Ravioli, by Daniel Boulud, Daniel.

Beef Wellington, by Harry & Peter Poulakakos, Harry’s Steak & Cafe.

Paris Brest Profiteroles, by Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery.

I really suggest you get down here between 9/14 and 10/14. I know I’m going back at least two more times this month to try more shit. Get on it, people. This is a rare opportunity to try a wide variety of amazing dishes and steaks. Tell them Johnny Prime sent you.

Seed + Mill

When I was a kid, I used to eat halva like it was my job. It’s probably my absolute favorite sweet thing to eat aside from soft serve vanilla ice cream. Seed + Mill sells halva cakes, but they also have goat’s milk vanilla soft serve ice cream. That’s double whammy for me in the dessert world. So when my buddy Jay from The Dishelin Guide set up a little influencer gig there, I was all over it.

I started with some of that soft serve goat’s milk ice cream in a blue corn tortilla cone, topped with shredded halva and freshly made tahini (they make it right there on site, in front of you). Amazing! This stuff is going to get big. It’s rich and creamy, but not as overbearingly sweet as regular ice cream. The tahini and halva bring in just the right amount of sweetness as a topping.

Next up, the halva cakes. They’re all purely halva – nothing baked or anything like that – but the quality and available flavors are like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

White chocolate and raspberries:

Mixed chocolate:

70% dark chocolate swirl:

And, while I didn’t shoot them, also worth mentioning here are the lemon and white chocolate, peanut butter, pistachio and rose water varieties. I love this place, and can’t wait to go back for more.

SEED + MILL
Chelsea Market
409 W 15th St
New York, NY 10011

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina

My wife and I stopped in this nice Italian joint for a quick meal. We kept it light here, and shared a meat and cheese board, along with a pasta dish.

Finocchiona, mortadella, cooked prosciutto, taleggio and another kind of cheese that I currently can’t remember. All were great, though I expected the finocchiona to be more like a roasted pork roll as opposed to a salami. Five items for $25.

The pasta was awesome. It was pricey at $36, but there was enough to share. Squid ink linguini with Maryland lump crab.

Before cheese:

After cheese:

This reminded me of Christmas Eve dinner with my family. Mom always made bucatini pasta with blue claw crabs that we caught ourselves at the docks along the Great South Bay. Ours was usually spicy as fuck though. This one did have a slight kick with some jalapeños, so cheers to that. I’d eat this dish every day if I could.

The reason I also have this marked off as a product review is because you can buy their uncooked pasta to go from a counter up front. My wife brought home some squid ink pappardelle once and it was incredible. Really nicely made, not too fishy, and great texture when cooked to al dente. She made it with prawns in a lobster sauce.

GIOVANNI RANA PASTIFICIO & CUCINA
Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011

4 Charles Prime Rib

I agonized a bit over whether I should review 4 Charles Prime Rib within my 10 categories for steakhouses. In the end I decided to review it as a regular restaurant, as I felt the steak selections were so LASER-focused on prime rib that the overall score would be artificially low if plugged into the steakhouse review framework.

But who cares, right? You bastards just want to see the pretty pictures and know whether I think you should eat here.

The short answer: YES! Eat here immediately.

I was here with my wife and two other friends to do a full-cavity search on this restaurant menu’s ass. No gloves. No lube. Raw and dirty. Here’s what we ate:

THE BURGER

We split this as an appetizer, and yeah, I know: We didn’t get it “au cheval” style like in Chicago, with the egg and bacon on top. There were several reasons why we didn’t: (1) Overkill. It would be too fucking tall with thick cut bacon and a fried egg sitting on top of this double cheeseburger. And with the addition of lettuce and tomato? Fuhgettaboutit; (2) One of my friends can’t eat egg yolk; and (3) After I spoke with some friends whose burger opinions I value, it was clear that baconless and eggless was the way to go.

So how was it? Great. It’s crafted in a similar style to Genuine Roadside or Hard Times Sunday, where they serve up classic American doubles. However, at those places you’re paying half the price for something that I felt was just as good, if not better. My opinion: skip the burger. It’s great, but not worth the $20 price tag (fries not included).

THE FRENCH DIP

This isn’t on the menu but it’s often offered as a special for the day, and they pre-cut it for four people (even though we told them they didn’t have to). Thin sliced beef, provolone cheese, great sandwich bread, jus and horseradish sauce.

Verdict: amazing. Get this and split it as your appetizer like we did. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll probably be as amazed as we were.

THE PORTERHOUSE

DeBragga supplied this porterhouse, which was offered as a special for the day. It was only dry aged for 10 days, but it packed a great earthy flavor while still retaining the character of the beef. It was 32oz and $120, marketed as being “for two.”

How was it? 10/10 – perfection. Well, I mean, the crust could have used a slight bit more char on the outside, but the flavor was so tremendous that it didn’t matter. The quality  was insane, and texture was incredibly tender. Served with a Bernaise sauce.

THE “4 CHARLES CUT” PRIME RIB

This is 24oz of bone-in, slow roasted Anderson beef out of Chicago. It cooks for three hours at 250 and then five hours at 125. The result is an incredibly juicy and tender roast.

That’s horseradish cream sauce there in the picture, and the steak also comes with jus. This is easily in my top three for prime rib here in the city, with a very close Keen’s and Burger & Barrel also in that top three. 10/10.

SIDES

Blue Cheese Creamed Spinach: I thought this would be really potent and harsh, only good for a bite or two to add richness to the prime rib, but it was mild and tasty. While I really enjoyed it, it was not my favorite creamed spinach. I would say that it’s worth a try if you fancy yourself a creamed spinach connoisseur.

French Fries: Solid. Not amazing, but not bad by any stretch. They get the job done, they’re nicely fried, and they’re crisp. Served with a garlic aioli.

Roasted Broccolini: Despite the typo on their menu (brocolinni), these were really nicely done. I love this fucking veggie, so I like to get it every time I see it on a menu. These fuckers prepared it just how I do: Simply seasoned and dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic; and then roasted until it’s cooked through, developing a little bit of charred texture on the heads.

DESSERT

Lemon Meringue Pie: Really nice thick meringue on top. Super fluffy and lots of flavor. The pie itself was just right: not too tangy and not too rich. I loved it. I’ve always loved a good lemon meringue pie. And look at those peaks! Also the serving size is tremendous – basically a quarter of the entire pie.

Chocolate Cream Pie: The good folks at 4 Charles Prime Rib brought this baby out for us on the house. I was really blown away by this gesture, not to mention how cool everyone was with the four of us taking photos of the food. I like to think that we weren’t too obnoxious, though. In any case, this was really delicious. The bottom was a sort of Oreo crust, and the whipped cream and chocolate sauce just took that rich, flavorful chocolate pie filling to the next level. Great stuff, and I’m usually not huge on chocolate desserts.

The Damage

Boom. You need to eat here. I can’t wait to go back.

4 CHARLES PRIME RIB
4 Charles St
New York, NY 10014

Crave Fishbar

My wife and I stopped into Crave Fishbar for their daily oyster happy hour. From 5pm to 7pm (4pm-6pm on weekends) all oyster varieties are just a buck each. We each tried one of each kind (along with some other snacks and drinks):

As strange as it was, our favorites all contained the word “point” in the name.

The calamari was really nice too. A perfectly dusted and fried batter, and really tender squid inside.

But what really blew me away at this place was their red crab cavatelli. The cavatelli is home made, and is torched/crisped up so that some of the edges are actually crunchy and al dente. Here are the before and after mix shots (beautiful colors):

I highly recommend that dish. It’s pricey, but worth it. If the pasta is all you’re after, they also have another cavatelli pasta dish, without the crab.

Overall, this place is great. We will definitely be back.

CRAVE FISHBAR
428 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024