All posts by Johnny Prime

The Modern

My wife and I came here for our 10th wedding anniversary.

We did the six course chef’s tasting menu. But first we started with some nice cocktails.

We did the groundskeeper and the terracotta navy. Here’s what’s in them:

The first thing to come out was this interesting tartlet amuse that had some sort of cheese and mushrooms inside a tiny pie crust.

The bread service consisted of a nice rosemary focaccia and small buns of pretzel bread.

The first of the six courses was their egg on egg on egg. Custard, yolk and caviar with a toasted brioche stick. Really delicious and easily a top dish for the year.

Next was this snapper crudo/tartare preparation.

Another top dish for the year goes to this foie gras tart with strawberries. Both white/green strawberries (tart) and red (sweet). A perfect dish in every way, with some meringue and tart strawberry salsa on top. Really nicely balanced between savory and sweet.

Next up was the first of the main proteins; the sea bass with mushroom in minestrone broth. Really light and flavorful, and it came with a pasta made from noodle-iced celtuse root.

This five-spiced, dry-aged Long Island duck was the winner for the mains though. Beautifully tender with lots of flavorful punch from the Thai basil puree and leaves.

Along with our complimentary anniversary cupcake (pictured above), they brought us a dessert amuse of mango fruit leather and ice cream, made to look like dim sum.

And finally, our dessert was this nice pistachio cake with lemon ice cream, white chocolate, balsamic reduction and some crumble.

We really enjoyed this meal. It was hefty in price, but we truly loved every dish. Also this is a no-tipping restaurant. Here’s the William:

THE MODERN
9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

Ichiran

I finally got around to trying the Japanese import ramen shop Ichiran. This place allows you to completely customize your bowl, where you choose the strength of the broth, the firmness of the noodle, and all of the toppings. Here’s how I ordered:

The ramen was awesome.

Deliciously rich, velvety pork broth. Perfectly cooked, firm noodles. Fork tender slices of pork loin and chashu.

The matcha pudding is really nice too, and I usually don’t like matcha very much.

So glad that this shop opened up so close to home on 49th.

ICHIRAN
152 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019

Isle of Capri

In my quest for all things parm, I came across Isle of Capri. With prices under $30 for these entrees, I just had to grab both the veal and the chicken parm.

At $27.25 this might be one of the best high end chicken parm deals you can find. I’ve had better at higher price points elsewhere, but this is very good for the money.

The same goes for the veal:

I was kinda hoping for a nice beautiful bone-in chop, but again just $28? I can’t complain.

I’d like to come back and try some pasta dishes soon. Everything looks good.

ISLE OF CAPRI
1028 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10065

Johnny’s NYC Prime Rib Scheduler

Who makes your favorite prime rib? In NYC, lots of steak joints offer them, but sometimes only on specific days of the week. Keeping track of them all can be a chore, so I’ve published this handy prime rib weekly scheduler for you to use as a guide.

There are some ambitious places that offer prime rib on the menu every day that they’re open – just make sure you check their business hours, as some joints may be closed on Sundays or Mondays, or they only offer the prime rib for dinner as opposed to lunch, etc. Here are some of the acclaimed ones, in my order of preference:

1) The Grill
2) 4 Charles Prime Rib (good luck trying to get a table)
3) Keens Steakhouse
4) Gallagher’s Steakhouse
5) The Ribbon
6) Hillstone
7) Smith & Wollensky
8) Don Angie (double prime rib braciole – again good luck getting a table)

Just a heads up: I’m probably missing some here that always offer prime rib. But the point of this post is really to organize the days of the week as I’ve done for you down below.

In addition to those that have an always-on-the-menu prime rib, there are places like Holy Ground which simply need a four hour heads up for you to reserve one, any day of the week that they’re open. I would also be remiss not to mention the seared and roasted spinalis dorsi pinwheel from Le Rivage at this point. You’ll need to call ahead for that at least two days in advance though, but the plus side is that you can customize how big you want it for how many people you need to feed. Talk to Chef Paul DeNamiel for that.

 

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Okay so now on to the more knit-picky scheduling.

Monday: Since Mondays are typically the slow day for many NYC restaurants, I did not have much luck finding any joints that dedicate this as their prime rib day. In that case, I refer you to the above joints that always have prime rib available on the menu, or the ones that just need an advance heads up before you go in.

Tuesday: Peter Luger offers prime rib from Tuesday through Thursday. I haven’t had it yet, but I promise I’ll get to it ASAP and update the review.

Wednesday: Tuscany Steakhouse just started offering prime rib on Wednesdays. There are only seven to eight orders available at the moment, so you’ll want to get there early. I’m told that they may soon offer prime rib on Fridays as well. Can’t get there? Then you can also hit Porterhouse Bar & Grill, Burger & Barrel, or Peter Luger.

Thursday: Porter House Bar & Grill offers prime rib on both Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as a special extra dry-aged prime rib that’s available by calling ahead and setting up a special dinner. You may need a few days advance notice on that one. You can also hit Peter Luger on Thursdays as well.

Friday: Del Frisco’s Grille in Rockefeller Center has a nice bone-in prime rib that’s available on both Fridays and Saturdays.

Saturday: Burger & Barrel offers a very reasonably priced all-inclusive prime rib dinner on both Wednesday and Saturday. You get salads, apps, sides and dessert with it. If memory serves me correctly, you may be able to order this one in advance for a party of four or more people on any day, so long as they have sufficient notice and a deposit. That’s how I did it the three times I went, but they may have switched over to purely Wednesdays and Saturdays at this point. Call and check. You could also hit Del Frisco’s Grille on a Saturday.

Sunday: Beatrice Inn used to have a nice Sunday rib roast with all the expected twigs and berries that typically accompany Angie Mar’s beef cuts. However it seems now that she closes the restaurant on Sundays. But wait – here’s a good one for you: Boston Market just started serving rotisserie prime rib from Wednesday through Saturday after 5pm, and on Sundays after 12pm (while supplies last and at participating locations). Call me crazy, but at $16.99 I kinda liked this. I found it to be better than many expensive prime ribs at the big steak joints, several of which just never get this dish correct.

If that doesn’t float your boat, or if it’s too low brow for your standards, then I refer you back up to the top of this article for the always-on-the-menu options.

I hope this helps you bastards out a little bit. Enjoy the prime rib!

The Ribbon

The Ribbon is a neighborhood bar and restaurant that serves up an impressive list of chops and roasts. The place is very popular with families, and you’ll see a ton of parents with their kids in there on weekends during the day. In fact I think my table was the only one in the back of the restaurant that didn’t have a child at it (aside from my immature ass, of course).

My wife and I started with cocktails. I enjoyed this Ol’ Thyme Gin, which had pear, thyme infused gin, amaro and lemon.

The Mr. Pimm was light and refreshing, pairing gin with cucumber, lemon, mint syrup and elderflower.

We started the steamed clams and a trio of pate, all of which were excellent. I was just hoping for a little heat with the clams since I saw “peppers” in the ingredient list. Probably just minced bells. The chorizo in there was nice though.

For our mains, we had the two prime ribs on the menu; pork and beef.

The pork was a little bit dry, but the apricot jam was a great way to get the juices flowing.

The 16oz king cut prime rib was great.

Nicely roasted to medium rare. I’m sick of ordering this dish and having it come to me raw and difficult to chew. They do it correctly here. It’s served with a nice jus and a light horseradish cream sauce. At $61 this may seem steep, but there’s no waste on it. Even the jiggly fat bits are edible. 8/10.

On the side we had some sauteed broccolini, which was a nice way to cut the fat.

And for dessert we shared the chocolate chip bread pudding (it comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). This had a nice brulee crunch to it on the edges, which made for a good mix of textures.

I definitely recommend this place, and I’ll be going back there to try more shit for sure. Here’s the William, FYI:

THE RIBBON
20 W 72nd St
New York NY, 10023

Boston Market Rotisserie Prime Rib

This is NOT a belated April Fools joke. I actually went to Boston Market to try their “21 days aged” rotisserie prime rib. The anticipation was building ever since I saw an ad for it in my neighborhood.

I live sorta close to one.

At $16.99 with two sides and cornbread, how bad can it be? The answer: not fucking bad at all! First of all, in a weird way, it was kinda beautiful. I ordered it just like what I saw in the picture, with string beans and mashed potatoes.

I was expecting something revolting, but what I got was really nicely crusted on the edges, with great peppery and savory flavors. The meat itself was good quality, and cooked pretty nicely for a chain fast food joint. I would definitely get this again, especially since it’s a third of the price of many expensive steak joints that just don’t get this dish right. So many places serve a chewy, undercooked, inferior product (despite using superior meats). 7/10. Well played, Boston Market. You have my respect, and my repeat business. Mainly because you gave me a BOGO coupon with my receipt, making a great deal even better.

Somehow, though, I suspect that this might be a hit and miss kind of item across all other locations. I guess we’ll see. Here’s where I got it:

BOSTON MARKET
885 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Phobar

This spot just took over the Char House location, which was an asian steakhouse (there’s another location by Washington Square Park too). The concept here is customizable bowls of pho with tableside boilers. You can even choose how rich your broth is, like some ramen joints offer; 8hrs, 16hrs, etc. My wife and I skipped that gimmicky stuff and went with some regular menu items instead.

For starters, we tried (1) the chili and tamarind sauce chicken wings; (2) the spicy chili oil pork knuckles; and (3) the spring rolls.

All three were great. The spring rolls were pretty standard in style and format (wrap them in lettuce with herbs and veg, then dip into fish sauce). The wings were delicious and crisp, with fried shallots on top. The pig knuckles were the stars of the starters though. Fork tender, jiggly, juicy, flavorful and spicy. I loved them. They reminded me of oxtail or braised chuck stew meat.

I had the surf and turf pho, which is beef broth with a half lobster and a nice big short rib on the bone. This is hefty at $25 for a bowl, but it really satisfies. Great broth and both the lobster and the short rib were perfect.

My wife had the bun bo hue, a spicy lemongrass pork and beef soup. It was delicious, and contained a ton of different meats within.

All in, this was $85 including tax and tip. High, but very tasty.

PHOBAR
43 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

Karvouna Mezze

Karvouna Mezze is the new Greek tapas (“mezze”) joint and meat house that just opened on the Bowery, headed up by the former chef from Merakia, Giuseppe Scalco.

I came in with a group of Instagramming bastards to try out some dishes and to feature our favorites on our profiles. Here’s what we tried:

Peinirli (Greek Pizza Boat)

I like the idea of this, I just wasn’t a fan of the flakey, dry dough. The fillings (bacon, herbs and cheese) were all great though.

Octopus

This was nice. As a mezze portion, this is actually pretty sizable.

Baked Eggplant

Generally I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but this was great. I really liked the presentation in a scooped-out and halved eggplant. You can even still see the stem on the top end. Great Mediterranean flavors on this; semi-Italian and semi-Middle Eastern.

Greek Salad

This was simple and delicious. A must order. Perfect and fresh.

Pork Belly

This was tender and flavorful, but I found myself going after the stewed greens underneath more than the actual pork belly. The ouzo and honey marinade was interesting though.

Lamb Ribs

These are amazing. I loved them at Merakia, and I love them here. They’re perfect as a mezze snack with three to four ribs per order. Great spice on them, expertly cooked, nice fat and tenderness levels.

Kleftiko

This was a bit of a let down. I really enjoyed the Kleftiko at Merakia, which was served like a stew in a bread bowl. Here, there was just too much bread and not enough of that stewed sauciness. It came off a bit dry, unfortunately, and the bits of lamb inside just weren’t tender enough to recall the stew format of the traditional dish.

Short Rib

This was awesome. So tender and flavorful, and sitting on a bed of braised greens and lentils. I could eat this every day.

Mixed Grill For Two

This was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the pork and sausage. It comes out on an actual grill, though you aren’t really cooking anything since it isn’t hot enough. It’s more of a show piece and meat warmer.

This is great for a group meal to share. Even the veggies on there were tasty, and it comes with some nice lemon potatoes too.

Red Velvet Halva

This was my favorite of the three desserts we tried. But don’t expect the texture and flavor of halva just because halva is in the name of the dessert. This tasted more like a gelatin or stiff mousse. Really delicious.

Baklava

A beautiful and tasty take on the classic dessert. A nice balance of sweet and savory, and it comes with a slab of rose jelly, which looks invisible in the pic above.

Chocolate Covered Digestive Cookies

This was like a chocolate covered biscotti. Interesting, but not something I would get again. I just didn’t love the flavor combination. A nice thing to have with coffee though, for those of you who are into it.

I would definitely go back here for the eggplant, ribs, mixed grill and short rib. Go give it a shot! I should also note that when we were there, the health inspector gave a surprise visit and fucked up the entire flow of the kitchen for a good hour or hour and a half. This place is brand new and the chef is very talented, so I have no problem recommending this place to others.

KARVOUNA MEZZE
241 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Madame Vo BBQ

The talented couple behind Madame Vo recently opened this joint as a way to introduce NYC to Vietnamese BBQ, which, from what I understand, is very popular in central Vietnam.

Be aware: this is not the same as American BBQ, which we all know is characterized by slow and low smoker cooking. This involves a high-heat metal mesh grill and various cuts of meat. Fast and hot, no smokers.

Also: this isn’t Korean or Japanese BBQ. While they use a similar cooking method with the grill, the flavors, preparations and beef items are obviously entirely different.

What’s really unique about Madame Vo BBQ, and what I feel sets Vietnamese BBQ apart from other grilled meat establishments, is that the traditional “Beef 7 Ways” or “Bò 7 Món” feast in Vietnamese culture really lends itself perfectly to this style of cooking.

So what is “Beef 7 Ways?” Sounds like a dream come true, right? It is. It’s also really not that difficult to figure out from its name.

“Beef 7 Ways” in Vietnamese cuisine is generally a large format family style meal where various cuts of beef are served, obviously, in seven different ways. Almost always this will involve some thin sliced beef that’s grilled or dipped in a hotpot broth. There will also almost assuredly be a spiced ground/minced beef application, often wrapped in a betel leaf. And surely there will be a finishing dish of some form of starch with beef. But all throughout, there are “summer roll” rice wrappers on the table – along with various veggies, herbs and even fruits – for you to wrap up with the beef as you eat your way through all seven courses.

Madame Vo has done a great job of elevating that traditional “Bò 7 Món” concept, refining it, and presenting it to New Yorkers in the familiar grill table format. Here’s how they present their version of “Beef 7 Ways:”

1st Way: Eye Round Carpaccio

This was great. I’ve always thought that eye round would be perfect for a carpaccio application. This Viet style carpaccio was so delicious. Great pops from the herbs, spices and sauce.

2nd Way: Meatballs

These are technically not beef; they’re pork. But delicious nonetheless, and still part of the seven.

3rd & 4th Ways: Ground Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf & Thin-Sliced Short Rib with Onion

These are both grilled, and the betel leaf rolls were my favorite of the seven courses. They have a great fresh green kick to them from the grilled leaf.

5th Way: Five-Spice Beef Tongue

This was awesome. They’re cooked through and make for the perfect filling in those rice wraps with veggies and herbs.

6th Way: Dry Aged Strip Steak with Marrow Butter

That marrow butter was absolute crack. Here’s a little video of it getting smeared on.

7th Way: Oxtail Congee

I really liked this. It was a close pick for my favorite of the meal.

Madame Vo BBQ offers this “Beef 7 Ways” for just $59/pp. I think that’s a great deal considering the quality of the beef, the amount you get, and of course the deliciousness of the whole experience.

We didn’t stop there, though. We also had some amazing seafood apps (not included with the “Beef 7 Ways”).

Giant Oyster with Uni Mayo

These things were huge, and that uni mayo was really addictive.

Maine Uni with Special Fish Sauce Beurre Blanc

Beautiful, sweet and delicious.

Grilled Prawns

These were nice and big. Tasty heads too!

BBQ Quail

The tamarind sauce on this really made it unique.

Short Rib & Marrow Spring Rolls

Loved these. I could eat a dozen easily.

And because I’m like a wild animal, I wanted more beef. We shared the Pat LaFrieda dry-aged tomahawk rib eye. At $95 for about 40oz, this is a steal.

Really beautifully presented too.

I highly recommend this place. Go with a group so you can try lots of stuff. Trust me – you won’t be disappointed!

MADAME VO BBQ
104 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Raoul’s

I’ve been meaning to try this spot for about four years now, and I finally got around to it. At least for the burger, anyway.

The Raoul’s burger debuted in 2015, and it has taken the burger world by storm ever since. This au poivre style masterpiece comes with sauce on the side, as well as a nice crispy set of French fries.

On top of the burger is some dressed spinach, sliced gherkins, red onion and a blob of triple-creamed French cheese that reminded me of a soft, velvety and mildly tangy goat cheese. The bun is a soft yet supple challah from Amy’s Bread. Perfect.

The bartender told me to cut the burger in half to make it easier to dip into the au poivre sauce, and he even cautioned me to ration some sauce for fry dipping. Wise words. However, this revealed that the cheese was relegated to one spot in the middle of the burger, and not spread evenly from edge to edge. I didn’t mind much, as this made for slightly different flavor experiences with each bite.

I loved this burger, and it’s easily in my top five at the moment. While the price tag was steep, I thought it was worth every penny.

I’ll be back for the strip steak au poivre very soon.

RAOUL’S
180 Prince St #2924
New York, NY 10012