Category Archives: Burgers

82 Stanton

This new spot is coming onto the bar food game pretty strong with a great selection of bites.

Here’s what I tried:

First, a nitro espresso martini. First time I ever saw something utilizing nitro coffee in a booze drink. This tasted like a mudslide, only not frozen.

The burger had great flavor. Nice and simple, right to the point. And the fries that came with it were awesome. Very addicting. Check out that CHIZZ drip (cheese jizz).

The fried chicken was really nice and crisp, not overly sauced up. They were well-seasoned too.

I loved the fish tacos. These were perfectly crisp, light and airy. I could put away a dozen.

This fried chicken thigh was really nice too. Juicy as hell.

It went nicely with this mac and cheese skillet.

I’ll definitely be drinking and eating here more often. The place has a great corner location with great wide open windows. You feel like you’re hanging out right in the street.

82 Stanton
82 Stanton St
New York, NY 10002

Ardyn

I finally got a chance to check out Ardyn, the restaurant that former Charlie Palmer Steakhouse chef Ryan Lory opened in the west village.

The space is beautiful, with a rustic, woodland feel to the dining room.

There’s also a beautiful bar with great cocktails and $1 happy hour oysters from 5-7pm (along with drink specials).

We started with a couple of raw fish dishes. Hamachi tartare and fluke crudo.

Both were awesome and pretty, but if I had to choose one to go back to repeatedly, it would be the hamachi.

Chef Ryan is becoming known for his gorgeous plating – very aesthetic. He also became known for his 50/50 burger at Charlie Palmer. It’s 50% smoked bacon and 50% brisket, with some dry-aged wagyu trim and fat in there to take it over the top.

The only down side here was the thickness of the pickled tomato slice. Half the thickness would be perfect, but that acidy pop did do a great job of cutting the buttery fatness of the rich and well-seasoned burger.

Make sure you don’t neglect the fries here with your burger. They’re amazing and possibly some of the best I’ve ever had.

All the sides were nice, in fact, from the shishitos to the carrots to the greens.

The pastas here are also excellent. We tried two: ramp garganelli with morels, and squid ink cavatelli with uni cream.

It was tough to choose a favorite between the two perfectly cooked and plated pastas, so I suggest getting both if you have room.

But the mains really shined.

First, this absolutely stunning duo of duck containing crispy sliced breast and a house made sausage.

The breast was nice but the sausage stole the show – like when Lex Steele stars in a porno flick with some ugly broad that has gross fake tits.

Of course we had to try the 45-day dry-aged Snake River Farms domestic wagyu rib eye.

This thing was incredible. It had a sexy, deep brown maillard crust on the surface and a rare cook beneath. You can still see the flecks of marbling in the flesh! It could have been cooked slightly longer, but the beef was so high quality that you could eat it like this even without the fat fully rendering out. 9/10.

Dessert was equally stunning. This choclate layer cake with pistachio ice cream was really rich and moist, like Paris Hilton in 2003.

This custard was light yet very satisfying.

And this asian style grapefruit/pomelo dessert was just the right kind of acidy and citrusy way to end the meal with a cleansed palate.

I definitely recommend this place. And if you want a seat close to the action, head to the back and pop your ass onto one of the stools that faces into the kitchen. Be warned though – it’s warm back there!

ARDYN
33 W 8th St
New York, NY 10011

West Side Steakhouse

West Side Steakhouse overall score: 79

A few weeks back some friends and I were discussing steakhouses, and one friend randomly mentioned this spot – a spot which I have been meaning to try for years now, but never got around to it. Same for him – always wanted to try, but never did. None of us had particularly high expectations going into this, as it’s a small spot with bargain-friendly pricing in a traditionally bargain-friendly area. My buddy and I were both shocked that we both actually wanted to try it, so a few of us got our schedules in order and made it happen, almost purely for research purposes. Here’s what went down:

Flavor: 8

We had the rib eye and the porterhouse for two. Both could have benefitted from some seasoning, but overall everything was cooked perfectly to medium rare and tender all over. They definitely cook with butter, which you can smell and taste, but it isn’t overpowering like some places. The steaks were also well-rested before they were served, with little to no bleed out.

We also tried their burger. I forgot to dress it up with the lettuce and tomato that comes on the side, but this 10oz beefy patty was cooked perfectly to medium rare and the bun help up nicely to both the cheddar and the burger juices. Like the steaks, it just needed salt.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

All the major cuts are well represented here, and the beef is Certified Angus Beef, from Performance Foodservice. There was no dry-aged flavor coming through, so, if I had to guess, they are doing wet aging.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are pretty big. The porterhouse clocks in at 45oz, the boneless strip and filet mignon are 12oz, and the rib eye is 16oz. They even offer a smaller t-bone (20oz) and a petite filet (8oz), which comes with three jumbo shrimp. Plating is pretty basic. Nothing too fancy. White plate, watercress garnish.

Price: 9

The prices here are awesome. That giant porterhouse for two is just $79. The rib eye is $40. We ordered so much shit and felt like we got away with murder. For what you get here, this place is a great deal.

Bar: 6

The cozy five-seat, elbow-shaped bar may be small, but it sees a lot of action. It’s stocked with a really great rum and scotch selection. Upon seeing the nice rums they had, I decided to order a rum old fashioned for my first cocktail. I was not disappointed.

They mix a nice martini to boot. I noticed that several people ate their dinner at the bar, either solo or with their companions, throughout the evening.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There’s pork, duck, chicken and lamb. No veal, but this is a great spread for a small spot. I almost never see good pork at steak joints these days, so I had to try some. We went with the braised pork shank as a mid-course, and it was cooked perfectly tender. The risotto was a little soupy, and tasted like chicken stock a bit, but I would definitely order that again in a heartbeat.

In addition to the pork shank they also offer a rack of ribs and center cut chops. I asked about specials but only recalled that the soup of the day was a split pea with bacon.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

We had the fries, the sautéed mushrooms and the creamed spinach as far as sides are concerned. All were pretty good, with the creamed spinach being the standout of the three. The fries needed salt (like the burger and steaks), but they had a great crisp on the outside.

For dessert, we had the cheesecake, which was rich and creamy. They don’t make the desserts in house, but I don’t mind if the stuff they serve is tasty.

See the seafood section below for notes on the app that we tried.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s bass, salmon and rainbow trout on the entree menu here, as well as shrimp, scallops, calamari, crab cakes and mussels on the app side. We tried the bacon wrapped scallops app and they were pretty good. I was shocked that the bacon was crisp all the way around – no rubbery spots – and the scallop was still cooked properly. They just had the flavor of something that was pre-made and frozen.

Service: 9

Our waiter was great. I don’t think he was used to seeing such heavy orders from a small group of three, so we kind of shocked him. He was great though, knew his meat and made good recommendations.

Bread here is a basket of basic dinner rolls with pre-packaged butter. The rolls are served nice and warm.

Ambiance: 7

A steakhouse with outdoor seating in NYC is a hard thing to come by. This place has it.

The interior is basic for the type of structure that it’s in – just a stretch of seating along one side of the room, with the bar and kitchen entry doors on the other.I’m glad I finally came here. Now I know I can go back when I want a good bargain with a nice mom and pop neighborhood feel. It reminded me a lot of Murtha’s back home, only better.

WEST SIDE STEAKHOUSE
597 10th Ave
New York, NY 10036

The Saratoga

This nicely appointed San Francisco eatery serves up some pretty fun grub.

We tried a bunch of stuff, so let me get right down to business.

Toga Tots

These brick-like tots were stacked, Jenga style. They had an awesomely crisp outside and a soft, mashed potato-esque inside. Topped with cheddar, chorizo and cilantro. Perfect.

Seven Spice Chicken Slider

These were pretty good. I really liked the Alabama white sauce and dill pickles.

Cubano Frank

This wonderful mashup between a Cuban sandwich and a hot dog was my favorite dish of the meal. Slow roasted pork, swiss cheese and spiced relish.

The Saratoga Burger

This baby was served with taleggio cheese and slaw on an onion bun. Pretty good! But after coming off of a Causwell’s burger high, we weren’t blown away.

Dry-Aged Flannery Beef NY Steak

For years I’ve heard great things about Flannery Beef. I had high hopes. This was really tough. I think they served us a hanger steak too – not a NY strip (I even asked and they confirmed NY strip). No way. I know beef texture and this was more like hanger and not remotely like striploin. The sauce was good but the beef was difficult to eat. 4/10.

Tomato Braised Tuscan Kale

Not my cup of tea here. Probably should have ordered the mushrooms or spring peas instead. This tasted like heartburn in each bite.

Ho Hos

These were fun! Definitely tasted just like a classic ho ho, but much better and elevated. Winner.

Chartreuse

The staff was awesome here. The owner saw that we were all taking pics for Instagram so he gave us a round of yellow and green chartreuse on the house. We barely touched them, however, since none of us particularly liked either of them. Bitter, and tasted like cough medicine. I realize this spirit is an acquired taste though, and I respect that this joint has one of the largest collections of chartreuse available in the world. Pretty cool. Just not my taste.

Their cocktails, however, are delicious. Here’s a shot of the Vieux Carre, which was delicious:

THE SARATOGA
1000 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Shari’s Cafe & Pies

This roadside stop in Red Bluff is like an improved mom and pop style Denny’s. We stopped in mainly to try the pies, but we couldn’t resist trying some of the savory items too.

First, the marble rye patty melt:

This was nice, and I liked the idea of it, but after coming off of the perfect patty melt at Pinecrest Diner in SF, we were underwhelmed.

Philly Style Prime Rib Dip

This was okay. Nothing to go nuts over, and a bit light on the meat. The fries and tots were good though.

Now on to the pies.

The butterscotch pie was probably the most well liked at the table. Really great texture and flavor.

I wanted more from the s’mores crunch pie, but ultimately I would house these, slice after slice, with ease.

The strawberry and rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream was perfection. I usually don’t love fruit pies but this one was fucking fantastic.

Definitely stop here if you’re driving by. Stick with the pies!

SHARI’S CAFE & PIES
128 Bell Mill Road
Red Bluff, CA 96080

YAKS on the 5

This roadside dining spot was referred to us by the folks at Belcampo Meat Camp as a fun place for good burgers.

We tried their famous warm sticky bun first. This was deadly delicious.

Next up, some wings. I thought these were a little on the sweet side, but I appreciated the smoke flavor.

We tried the jalapeno and cheddar burger, which was really tasty despite looking like pure foodporn. Loved the addition of ranch here to cool it down, and the local beef happened to come from a guy’s family farm who we just met (he now works for Belcampo now, but this place uses his family’s grass finished beef). Great beef.

The cajun brown sugar tots were strangely addictive! I could not stop popping them.

YAKS ON THE 5
4917 Dunsmuir Avenue
Dunsmuir, CA 96025

Pinecrest Diner

I didn’t eat much here other than having a bite of this awesome patty melt that was served on delicious rye bread.

This little spot is a classic American no-frills diner.

Worth checking out, but be warned: they do generate a line outside.

PINECREST DINER
401 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Causwell’s

Before heading to San Francisco my friends and I poked around and did some research on where to get a good burger. One place that kept popping up was Causwell’s.

Our research proved correct: this places serves a great burger!

Their Americana burger is a nice Big Mac style double smash that really satisfies. The fries are great too.

We also tried their Loco Moco burger, a nice tribute to the Hawaiian ground beef, rice, onion, cheese and gravy plate.

This was really great, and it embodied all those flavors that you expect from the Hawaiian classic. I just wish it came with a cup of gravy for dipping with each bite. We had fried onions with this, which were really nice and crisp. Shredded style.

I highly recommend this if you find yourself in that beautiful disaster of a city known as San Francisco.

CAUSWELL’S
2346 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

In N Out

I finally tried In n Out, the craze of the west coast!

I went with the double double, animal style.

I approve! The burger has an awesome classic roadside style, but the sauce is what really sets it apart from others. The fries need some work, however. They just lack crunch and depth. They taste like cheap frozen fries that you baked in the oven instead of fried. A little dry. A little unseasoned. A little boring.

All in though, I really dig In n Out. It’s on par with Shake Shack.

IN N OUT
333 Jefferson Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

Saigon Social Pop-Up

Currently, Saigon Social is chef Helen Nguyen’s pop-up dining experience. The location varies, but the most common spot seems to be at Boys Don’t Cry in the Lower East Side/Chinatown.

A lot of buzz has built up around her dinners – deservingly so – because she’s extremely talented. I’ve eaten her food several times in the past year, and I have to say she’s serving some of the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had in the city.

I haven’t written about her yet because, well, up until now she’s only been doing pop-ups, and for some reason I feel like I can’t talk about pop-ups since they’re so fleeting and temporary.

But Helen is about to open a restaurant here in Manhattan, spearheading the way for great NYC Vietnamese food, along with John Nguyen (Saigon Dep), and Yen Vo and Jimmy Ly (Madame Vo and MV BBQ). Yes, I’m ignoring Brooklyn and Queens Viet food for the moment; there are some great spots out there in the sticks.

Anyway, my wife loves her food too, so that pretty much means it’s legit. Those of you that don’t yet know Helen Nguyen will be saying, “Hey, wait a fucking minute… Johnny GODDAMN Prime was talking about her, and now here she is, all over the news!” But if you read food publications, you may have seen her pop-ups featured as a “must try” for the past year.

Her bo 7 mon (“beef seven ways”) feast was incredible. Her brûlée bone marrow ended up in my top dishes of 2018, not to mention that she can seriously cook steak and makes some of the best pho around.

She knows her meat, as she is deeply connected to the Pat LaFrieda brand. At a recent pop-up, I had her garlic noodles with deep fried soft shell crab, which was incredible.

Also, her meaty fried rice with bone marrow and egg was probably one of the best rice dishes I’ve ever eaten. Highly addicting with that home made scallion oil.

Her newest creation is a banh mi burger. The perfect halfway point between American and Vietnamese, marrying the familiar flavors of both classics.

This beauty is a blend of short rib, chuck and 60-day dry-aged rib eye.

It’s topped with pate, mayo, maggi sauce, pickled carrots, cilantro and jalapeno.

Helen smiles at the joy I exhibit upon eating her burger.

What I really like about this burger is that it’s meaty as fuck but it isn’t heavy. Just like Viet food generally, it’s light, fresh, herb-ish, and healthy… but the culture is very meat-centric. And just like a banh mi sandwich, you can eat this and still walk around after, not food-comatosed and yet still craving more.

Look out for these dishes at Saigon Social, coming soon to NYC!