Category Archives: Burgers

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

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

Zeppelin Hall

Zeppelin Hall is a massive biergarten in Jersey City. They’re currently (through 2/4/18) celebrating BACONFEST, a glorious time when they roll out a special menu that features various preparations of bacon with influences from all over the world.

As you can see, there are a lot of bacon dishes. Here are the ones we tried:

Bacon Wrapped Tomahawk Steak

I mean let’s get right to it. This thing is fucking insane. It’s a three-pound of beef lollipop, wrapped in delicious maple bacon.

The bacon adds a nice sweetness to the dry-aged meat and compliments is in an unexpectedly nice way.

This is a must-try for any meat lover.

China

This braised pork belly dish still managed to have a really crispy skin on it. Excellent.

Mexico

Can’t go wrong with bacon tacos. These were perfect.

Argentina

Bacon Empanadas. These were fantastic, filled with bacon and cheese.

Australia

Bacon wrapped shrimp – always a crowd pleaser.

Canada

A country known only for it’s poutine, and no other significant contributions of society besides Jim Carrey, must be represented with strength and resolve. Excellent fries.

USA

A 100% bacon patty burger? Yes please. Just add sauce, as the patty can get dry when the bacon must be cooked completely through.

And of course, bacon mac and cheese. Our pride and joy.

Germany

Bacon and kraut. A nice combo.

Lebanon

Bacon wrapped pork skewers. Yes.

Other honorable mentions: Italy’s bacon bolognese sauce, and Venezuela’s bacon arepas. Both excellent.

That about does it. Get over here before February 4th and indulge.

ZEPPELIN HALL
88 Liberty View Dr.
Jersey City, NJ 07302

Clover Grill

When I first went to New Orleans in 2009, my wife and I walked by this little dive diner joint a bunch of times and kept contemplating going in to try a burger. It looks like just the kind of place where you might find something fantastic. A hidden gem, so to speak.

They even claim to have the best burger in the world.

The menu is actually funny to read. Check it out.

You can actually see the hubcaps they use.

So we had to get it.

But look at the menu description for the hot dog.

So we had to get it.

Well, despite all the excitement, these two items didn’t quite deliver. They were just okay. But I do love the atmosphere here – a very small old style diner, open 24 hours.

Even complete with slices of pie. Here’s the ice box key lime pie, which was actually great.

CLOVER GRILL
900 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Chimichurri Grill (East)

I was invited to Chimichurri Grill East by the restaurant’s PR specialist to try a special five course tasting menu (with wine pairings and dessert), and to write a review. Let me get right to it!

The restaurant is an elegant, modern and fine dining Argentinian steak house. This is somewhat of a rarity here in the city, as most Argentinian places that I know are more on the pub atmosphere end, and don’t serve actual Argentinian proteins. Argentinian beef is something that people clamor for, so it’s good to know that this place serves the real deal.

Moreover, Chef Carlos Darquea uses family recipes to create the dishes he loves and grew up with. Everything is authentic and from the heart.

His wife Alicia is the wine director, and together they own a sister restaurant, called Chimichurri Grill West (a theater district mainstay for nearly 20 years), which serves the exact same menu but in a different atmosphere.

Here’s what we had:

Course 1: Sweetbreads (Heart)

This was really nice. These veal heart sweetbreads are sliced and grilled, served with a red pepper, parsley and garlic sauce, and featured on a slice of crispy purple potato. Very pretty and delicious. This was similar to something like foie gras.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 2: Beef Tongue Stew

I really loved this warm, hearty and delicious dish. It was reminiscent of homemade beef barley soup. The tongue was diced into small cubes and braised to tender perfection.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 3: Grilled Romaine Salad

The feta, buttermilk and dill dressing makes for a nice creamy compliment with the grilled greens. And the crispy bacon lardon is just perfect.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

We had a scoop of homemade passion fruit sorbet to cleanse the palate. Very nice!

Course 4: Pasta with Seafood

This house made pasta is served with a chardonnay and basil sauce that gets added to a roux and the various seafood juices that Chef Carlos extracts from the seafood used to make the dish; clams, calamari, prawns, mussels and halibut.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 5: Grass Fed Argentinian Rib Eye

This was great. It’s wet aged for 32 days as it travels from Argentina to the US. Chef Carlos finishes this Black Angus steak directly on wood charcoal to develop a great crust on the outside of the meat. It’s even plated with some charcoal, and when you pop the rosemary on top, it smokes and gives off a great aroma.

It was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It had a huge outer cap and a lean eye, likely due to the grass fed nature of the beef.

You’re in for a really nice bite when you combine the caramelized vidalia onions and sauces that come to the table with this dish.

The steak (which was a full sized portion, FYI) also came with French fries. These were perfectly crisp and deliciously seasoned.

Dessert: Dulce de Leche Creme Brulee

Wow. What a great dessert! So flavorful, smooth and unexpected. A great Latin twist on the classic French custard.

That about covers it! I really can’t wait to go back and try some more cuts of steak. The menu here is new/fresh, exciting, and completely outside the box.

They even have nice happy hour specials from 4-8pm, and a great express lunch menu for all you midtown power lunchers. Get on it!

UPDATE: 12/22/17

On a subsequent visit, I tried a few more delectable items.

La Suprema Burger

Veal sweet breads and caramelized onions on top of a 6oz grass finished filet patty. Very nice. The sweetbreads almost act like a cheese, adding that creaminess and fat content to the lean beef.

Clams with Chorizo

Perfection. Just order these and you’ll thank me later.

Bife Con Fritas

Strip steak, perfectly cooked, with those delicious fries. Can’t go wrong with this bad boy. I liked this better than the rib eye, and at just $42 for 12oz, you’re saving some cash in the process.

Special Off Menu Bone-In Rib Eye

Similar to the boneless cut I tried during the multi-course tasting, this lean rib eye backed a great flavor with a robust char from the on-coals cooking process.

CHIMICHURRI GRILL EAST
133 E 61st St
New York, NY 10065

Butcher & Banker

Butcher & Banker overall score: 91

I was invited into Butcher & Banker for a special preview dinner with a group of people from Instagram. This joint has taken over the previously unused space in an old bank vault on the ground floor of the New Yorker Hotel. I was really excited to try out some items from their impressive menu. Check out the details below.

Flavor: 8

I tried two different cuts of steak here. I’ll start with the big boy; the tomahawk rib eye (individual flavor score: 10/10).

This beauty was big, juicy and flavorful.

It was cooked to a perfect medium rare with a really great crust.

While there was a good amount of fat on this chop, the fat was the high quality kind that you can eat like beef jelly. I was loving it. And the generously sized cap was absolutely incredible.

Next up was the smoked strip steak (individual flavor score: 8/10).

This thing was beautifully presented on a circular, hibachi style steel mesh grate that sat atop a cast iron grill pan which was covered in rosemary (that’s where the smoke comes from – firing the herbs up). This, too, was perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful. However I was only able to try a small piece, and I think I got one of the “lesser” slices that remained, as we shared two cuts among about 10 or 12 people. As such the 8/10 score is tentative, and I’m reserving full judgment on this cut until I can try another during my next visit. What I did have was great, but I imagine a slice from the center would be a perfect score, just like the tomahawk.

On a second visit, I tried the porterhouse.

It was a little overcooked, and only parts had that characteristic dry-aged flavor. I did like the rosemary aroma, however. 6/10.

More shots of the tomahawk, also from the second visit:

Not quite up to the first visit standards (7/10 this time), but a trusted friend went back again and he said it was much better. I chalk this inconsistency up to new-restaurant jitters. I’ve seen this happen with other places (like Boucherie), and the joints often times come out much stronger after working out the kinks. Overall they’re still at 8/10 after two visits, and I have high hopes for increases in the score with additional visits. I still need to try the culotte and rib cap steaks. More to come…

Butcher’s Burger

This baby is very nice. I recommend ordering it as an appetizer and splitting with your friends. The cheese was a combo of gruyere and aged parmesan, which creates a really funky flavor profile.

It comes with a side of fries and a dynamite pimento cheese sauce for dipping. I think all this burger needs to reach perfection is perhaps a softer bun and a sauce of some kind. Perhaps the pimento sauce can be applied to the burger instead of as a dip for the fries?

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

Chef Scott Campbell sources all of his beef from Pat LaFrieda and a state of the art facility out on Long Island (apologies – the name escapes me at the moment). The cuts available here range far and wide: long bone short rib, tomahawk rib eye, porterhouse, rib cap, coulotte (top sirloin cap), hanger, strip (corn fed or grass finished), filet mignon, and cowboy rib eye. Insanity. And there’s definitely some dry aging going on here – they just didn’t print out the number of days for each cut.

Personally, I don’t care about the number of days as long as I can taste it. Lately I’ve had some dry aged beef that claims to be aged for so long, but the time didn’t translate into flavor. It really all depends on the aging room. Whatever the case may be here, I was able to taste it, and that is a win to me.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portion sizes here are pretty generous, and the plating is artful without being too fancy.

Price: 10

Since my meal was free, I have to award full points here. However, the prices are fair for the area, and reflect normal pricing for a midtown Manhattan steakhouse. There’s a variety of cuts available for the discerning carnivore, ranging from $32 for the budget savvy to $63 for the big spenders (per person).

Bar: 8

The bar is cozy and interesting. Being down in an old bank vault, it can be out of the way or an effort to get to, as it isn’t a visible spot from the street. But I really liked the vibe.

The cocktails are great here, and they reflect a modern twist on the art deco design of the New Yorker Hotel.

Raffles Singapore Sling:

A Proper Manhattan:

Our Bountiful Martini:

Specials and Other Meats: 10

There’s plenty to go around in the “other meats” department. The menu boasts a duck steak, veal, lamb and chicken. But the big star of the non-beef items is the Kan Kan Pork.

The menu description of this dish – “a grand arch of double loin chops, belly and cracklings” – doesn’t quite do it justice. Order it and you’ll know what I mean when you see it come to the table.

It’s garnished with caramelized Catskill apples, and served with an apple cider reduction.

There is no other pork dish like it in the city, and nothing even comes close to it. This is meant for two at $41/pp.

I’m not sure if the waiters will be reading off-menu specials each day, but when you have stuff like this on the menu, what else can possibly be “special” in comparison?

On a second visit, this baby was even more impressive than the first time. I fucking love this thing.

It kinda looks like a sleigh (as aptly pointed out by a friend):

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We tried a bunch of apps and sides, so I’ll just rattle it all off and let you know my thoughts about each.

Banker’s Bacon Double-Thick

As you know from following this website and my Instagram account, there are very few bacon apps that can compete with my top five list. This Banker Bacon was delicious though – no doubt about it – and definitely worth getting as an app.

Short Rib Taquitos

I didn’t see these listed on the menu, but they were great. Super tender stewed style beef with a hit of cooling avocado cream inside a crispy shell. Can’t go wrong.

Colossal Shrimp Cocktail

Delicious and big. The fresh shaved horseradish on top was killer.

Calamari, Rock Shrimp & Shishito Fritti

These come with a great wasabi cream dipping sauce and a little bowl of curry salt for personal seasoning. That salt is really something else, and I love the flavor combinations when you dip into the wasabi cream and then finish with a pinch of curry salt. Perfectly crispy and lightly battered, and the shishito is a great touch.

Three Minute Diver Scallop Ceviche

Really light and well balanced. The scallops were meaty and delicate, and the bright yuzu and grapefruit dressing made them really pop.

Crisp Piri Piri Oysters Rockefeller

These were excellent. I usually don’t like cooked oysters very much, but these were almost like just the outside was cooked, with a crispy fried shell encasing the juicy, creamy oyster inside. Perfect with that dollop of creamed spinach underneath.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms

A great blend of fungi, simply treated with butter, herbs and seasonings – and looking beautiful.

Foie Gras with Grilled Pineapple

The pineapple was a bit too thick and not quite soft enough from the grilling process, but the concept is amazing, and so is the quality of the foie. Worth ordering.

Asparagus

Hot Chocolate

Homemade Gelato

I didn’t get a shot of this stuff, but the texture was so rich and creamy. It was awesome. Chocolate, vanilla and bourbon pecan (incredible and unique).

Seafood Selection: 8

I didn’t try any fish entrees, but all of the starters I tried involving seafood were excellent. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to ordering a seafood entree, as there are still so many meat items I need to try when I return. In any case there are scallops, salmon, shrimp and tuna in the seafood entree department – a fair showing.

Service: 10

The wait staff is on top of their game. They know the cocktails inside and out, and they can explain everything on the menu with precision.

Also worth mentioning here is the homemade skillet bread that comes out to the table with a pair of different butters.

Light, airy, and fluffy inside with a buttery and savory outer crust. One of these days I’ll write up a top five table breads list, and I’ll certainly be considering this as a candidate.

Ambiance: 9

What else can be said about an old bank vault? The details in this place are all original and completely stunning.

And the modern touches from the renovation to turn this place into a steakhouse are elegant, yet still warm and inviting.

The space itself is divided into three locations: the vault, the bar/lounge, and the bifurcated dining room. It’s not a large restaurant, but they really made the best of the space. It feels like it belongs, and I can’t wait to go back.

BUTCHER & BANKER
The New Yorker Hotel
481 8th Ave
New York, NY 10001

Death Avenue

I’ve been meaning to check out Death Avenue because I was always intrigued by the name. Death Avenue was the notorious nickname given to 10th Avenue due to all of the railway deaths that occurred there in the old days, when trains ran vertically up and down the avenue to service the warehouse and meat packing districts.

In any event, the joint is Greek-inspired, but also had some classic American staples like burgers and BBQ.

The cocktail list is excellent.

I tried the Banana Bourbon, which was light and smooth, and definitely banana-infused. My wife tried the Mastiha Mint (Mastiha is a kind of tree – its sap or extract is used in the drink). It was refreshing like a mojito.

We started with fried pickles. Pretty basic. The dips were interesting: a BBQ cause, tzatziki and some kind of hollandaise-isa sauce. The pickles were tasty, but the batter slipped off too easily.

My wife ordered the 8 Hour Octopus app as her entree. This was pricey at about $26, but it was tasty and somewhat substantial enough to eat as an entree if needed.

I had the Feta Burger. This was stacked way too tall, but overall it was a decent enough burger to satisfy my cravings. The oregano fries that came with it were great.

I’d say this was a great place to have a few drinks and snacks, but I’d skip making a whole meal out of it.

DEATH AVENUE
315 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Benjamin Steakhouse White Plains

Benjamin Steakhouse (White Plains)
Overall Score: 85

Guest Review by “Hungry Dad” Hugh Gallon
www.HungryDads.com

As in my prior guest review for BLT Steak in White Plains, it’s important to start by saying that I am not qualified to properly review a steakhouse – at least not when compared to the Carnivore Connoisseur himself. But with steak, as with art, I know what I like. For context, my favorite steak place is Peter Luger, which has a reputation for being overhyped with respect to the steak (but is appropriately hyped with respect to its atmosphere). Also, it’s important to note that my reviews are often through the lens of a parent dining with children, as is the case here. So certain priorities differ from Johnny Prime’s. Nonetheless, I can use Johnny’s well-conceived ranking system as a structure for my ill-conceived opinions.

I wanted steak for my birthday, but a babysitter doubles the price of a steak dinner right off the bat. And a trip into Manhattan with the kids is a suicide mission unless the destination is kid-centric. So my favorite NYC steak joints are just not as convenient as they used to be. I was almost resigned to visiting the local diner for an order of steak and eggs. But then I found brunch at Benjamin Steakhouse in White Plains – owned by the same folks as Manhattan’s Benjamin Steakhouse and Benjamin Prime.

Flavor: 9

Benjamin’s rib eye was great. A nice salty crust and medium rare to my liking. I picked this place because it was close, but also because Benjamin has some genetic history with my beloved Peter Luger, as its owners came from Lugers.

I ordered the rib eye hoping to get plenty of fat and juice, knowing that the NY sirloin or filet minion would be too lean for my tastes (I learned such basics from Johnny’s outstanding Meat 101 and 102). The ribeye was juicy with a nice edge of fat. I would have actually welcomed a thicker strip of fat. I love the fat. When I was a kid, my dad said eating the fat put hair on your chest. Based on the veritable forest I have there, he must have been right.

Side note: I have to remember to ask Johnny if it’d be appropriate to ask a steakhouse waiter for a “fattier cut,” or if that’s weird or stupid in some way. Is a big strip of fat technically bad? It is less meat after all. When I go to a BBQ joint, I always ask for burnt ends of the brisket – which are viewed as inferior by some. But the burnt ends are my favorite. I think asking for burnt ends makes you look like you are “in the know,” with BBQ, but without being too big a douche. I wonder if there are any such questions appropriate for the steakhouse with respect to fat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

We ended up at Benjamin for brunch, rather than dinner. Fortunately, Benjamin still offered their full menu in addition to a brunch menu. For guys like me, stuck in Westchester with kids, who still want the full steak experience on their birthday, this was a godsend.

The menu offered porterhouse (for two, three or four), NY sirloin, filet mignon, and a rib eye. No wagyu. The steaks are “Chef Selected, Dry Aged in Our Own Aging Box” as per the menu. Johnny discussed these cuts in his review of Benjamin Prime better than I ever could.

I would have loved a porterhouse. Unfortunately, I am almost always eating steak alone. My wife and kids would rather eat salad and breadsticks. So they can have their birthdays at Olive Garden if they want. I should have manned-up and just ordered the porterhouse steak for two and eaten it alone ala “John-Candy-in-The-Great-Outdoors.” But my wallet talked me out of it.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

My ribeye was handed over on a heated dinner plate and I was pleased to see a very generous portion. I had thought perhaps they would send their dinkier cuts up north. Plus, I was there at brunch-time. But this was a nice big steak to satisfy my birthday hunger. I was so relieved when I saw that hunk ‘o meat. My birthday steak quest had ended. And it ended nicely.

I do prefer a “sizzling steak presentation,” which I think may be reserved for the porterhouse. Lugers, for instance, delivers your steak already cut, sizzling, dripping with juices and butter; and the plate tipped up slightly so the juices run into a puddle. I know, I know. As Johnny has taught us, that this can result in overcooking and doesn’t allow your steak to rest. I guess I don’t mind sacrificing some taste for a little razzle dazzle, plus I do like steak a little more on the done side anyway. (See, I told you I lack the credentials to review steak).

Price: 9

The prices were fair for a high-end steak place, albeit on par with Manhattan prices (which is to say expensive). I thought perhaps the non-Manhattan real estate would bring some savings to me. But, I am sure I am paying an upcharge on steaks imported all the way from Manhattan. Also, steak is probably a “prestige pricing” type of item. A place like Benjamin isn’t looking to compete on price. If anything, it probably wants to match Manhattan prices as to convey a match in quality.

Bar: 8 (officially un-reviewed. But to complete the cumulative score, I’ll give it an 8 based on Johnny’s review of Benjamin Prime’s bar, which I assume is of similar quality.)

I’m not a huge drinker. It was brunch. I was with two kids. Suffice to say I didn’t even see the bar. If I was offered a drink menu, I didn’t notice. I was busy keeping my kids from coloring the cloth napkins and sneezing onto the next table.

Since I can’t talk about the bar, I’m going to use this space to describe how great Benjamin brunch was for kids. Make no mistake, Benjamin is not “family friendly,” in the marketing meaning of the term. Benjamin is not “for kids,” in any sense. There was no kids menu. They did not have cups with lids or coloring pages and crayons (we came with our own crayons and paper as per the standard parent eating-out survival kit).

Before we left the house, I called Benjamin with a sincere inquiry as to whether bringing kids was okay. Albert (who answered the phone) said it was fine. I clarified that my kids can strain the limits of polite society. Albert again said it was fine. And God bless him, he was clearly sincere in his reassurance, which meant a lot.

The waiters at Benjamin were pretty formal and proper; as one would expect from an upscale steakhouse. But even the most uptight waiter smiled sweetly when our kids offered obligatory, parentally-mandated “pleases,” and “thank yous.” I observed another table, with a baby in a high chair, who was keeping busy by dropping his toy on the floor every thirty seconds or so. The table was in the path to the kitchen. Waiters, time after time, without issue, happily picked it up and handed it back to the kid without so much as a mild eye roll or subtle grimace.

The food came fast, which is perfect when dining with kids. The check came fast. With the ticking time bomb of children in a restaurant, this is ideal. We did not feel like we were being rushed. Rather, I think Benjamin boasts an astute service staff who recognizes that a quicker meal pace is needed for a family with young children – as opposed to a romantic date, which should take more time.

Towards the end of our dinner Albert came by as my son was writing out his alphabet. Albert kindly chatted us up and made a deal with the kids (after getting our permission). Albert said that if my son got to “Z,” in the alphabet, he’d bring out ice cream sundaes. My son immediately skipped from “G” to “Z.” (True story. He’s his father’s son). We made him finish the whole alphabet, and as promised, two wonderful sundaes appeared, on the house. And truth be told, we got a third, on account of my daughter’s nut allergy (so I got hers when she got her nut free version!).

All of this, and we never even told them it was my birthday.

Again, this is not a kid’s restaurant. It’s a nice place. So I’m not sure you would want to bring any toddler during primetime dinner hours. But for brunch, Benjamin staff was beyond a class-act for us parents – on edge about bringing their kids to a nice restaurant. Benjamin brunch wasn’t too busy and turned out to be a genius birthday plan. I was able to spend that babysitting money on a good steak, without letting my kids ruin a nice Saturday night out for folks just looking to dine in peace.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

The brunch menu was pretty brunchy with pancakes, eggs benedict, chicken ceasar salad, a frittata, and not a lot of meat offerings. A burger and thick cut bacon were the most substantial choices. The full menu does not include the burger, but adds rack of lamb and a veal chop, (double thick, extra heavy cut).

My wife’s burger, ordered medium, was just okay. Perhaps I expected too much. Burgers aren’t on the regular menu. So if a place is only cooking a few burgers a week for a brunch crowd, it’s not likely to be an outstanding item.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

While I am a self-proclaimed novice at steaks, I can confidently speak about sides and desserts. Here’s what we had:

Fries – Benjamin’s fries were good. Thick cut, but not steak fries.

Chocolate chip pancakes – We got these for the kids. They liked them but did note that the dark chocolate chips weren’t their favorite. Naturally, as good parents, we followed up that healthy lunch with some ice cream.

Schalg – To my surprise and delight, the kids did not care for the schlag that came alongside the pancakes. Schlag, for the uninitiated, is a whipped topping, pretty much like whipped cream, but not very sweet and perfectly thick – much thicker than your average Cool Whip. I first got this stuff at Peter Luger and it is my absolute favorite. I ate it alongside my steak as to enjoy fresh. No regrets. To me, a great combination.

Ice Cream – Nothing fancy, but pretty much perfect as far as ice cream sundaes go. Fudge, nuts, and a cherry on top.

Seafood Selection: 8

We didn’t try any seafood. Brunch offered a good number of seafood items including tuna tartar, lobster bisque, crabcakes, and oysters on the half shell. The full menu had Chilean sea bass, grilled Norwegian salmon, grilled yellowfin tuna, 3 or 4 lb. jumbo lobster (broiled or steamed), and lobster tails.

Service: 10

In addition to the outstanding “kid-centric” service discussed above, Benjamin service was top-notch all around. The waiters were proper and distinguished, keeping the service mostly as an official, arms-length affair. Not unfriendly at all. Just appropriately formal. They entertained my wife’s questions, substitutions, and indecisiveness without flinching. Meanwhile, Albert roamed the floor gregariously, making sure everyone was happy. The food was delivered in a flurry by at least three or four well trained servers.

Ambiance: 8

When we got to Benjamin, I had my doubts about Albert’s assurance that it was cool to bring little kids. By all appearance, it’s a place for grown-ups who are looking for a nice quiet, classy meal. White tablecloths. Black bow tied waiters. Big leather-bound menus. Darkly lit. It’s a nice place with all the ambiance of a classically nice steakhouse. Meanwhile, my children can turn Tasmanian Devil in an instant. Strategically, we decided to sit outside. There was no waterfront table or rooftop view. But my kids could be a little squirmier without worrying about upsetting the normal folk.

BENJAMIN STEAKHOUSE
610 Hartsdale Road
White Plains NY 10607

Mt Kisco Diner

A college friend of mine, Harry Georgiou, owns and runs the Mt. Kisco Diner, which has been in his family for years. He’s taken a bold initiative while at the helm, renovating the space to look more like a beautiful restaurant than a typical diner.

It has a fully stocked wrap-around bar, a spacious and beautiful dining room, and comfortable seating. There’s even an outdoor garden area if you want to eat outside.

But that’s not where his initiative stops. Harry and his staff have gotten really creative with their extensive menu. They’ve taken the quality and craftsmanship of the food up several notches from what you might expect at even a really great diner.

Let’s look a few examples right off the bat.

The Gastro Burger is a 9oz proprietary blend of always fresh, never frozen beef (ground daily in-house), and topped with smoked gouda, bacon onion jam, grilled apple, and roasted garlic aioli, all on a nice pretzel bun.

And that’s not the only great burger that they offer. There are 15 different burgers on their menu, including non-beef options and classic beef styles like this Big Top Burger (melted American and Swiss, and caramelized onions and mushrooms on a brioche bun).

These things are gourmet quality at diner prices ($12-$15). They all come with a pickle, and either mixed greens or fries.

Speaking of French fries, the menu has an entire “frites bar” that features six different styles of French fry. I went with the Herbed Truffle Fries. These things were absolutely perfect! Amazing crisp on the outside, nice and soft inside. Not too overpowering with the truffle, and just the right amount of salt and seasoning from the parmesan cheese. Also really fucking beautiful!

I also got a taste of my forte: Steak! I was skeptical at first, as I would typically never order a steak at a diner. But this is not a typical diner, and Harry insisted that I try their skirt steak. I’m glad I listened.

Not only was this plating beautiful and unique, but it had some awesome looking grill marks on it to boot.

As you can see it came with crispy fried union strings and sautéed garlic spinach.

The interior was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It’s been a while since I had a great skirt steak. This baby really hit the spot!

It doesn’t end there. Nope. I had to try one more of Harry’s menu upgrades: the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. There are a few of these, but I went with the “Alpine” grilled cheese.

As you can see it comes with a cup of creamy roasted tomato soup, but in-between the thick, toasty, country white bread is where the sandwich starts kicking some serious ass.

That’s crispy pancetta, gruyere, caramelized onions, baby arugula, and tomato with white balsamic vinaigrette. Amazing!

I also sampled some or the more normal menu items as well, like bruschetta and chicken quesadillas.

The execution is still on point. No one in the bustling kitchen is cutting any corners. Everything is made very nicely.

I mean they even have a baker on site, making all the desserts in-house, fresh. And they’re all really beautiful.

I tried a delicious slice of lemon meringue pie that I brought home with me (not pictured), but while I was at the diner, I was anxious to drink one of Harry’s mega-shakes.

These are very popular with the kids these days. This Chocolate Chip Cookie Shake is made with vanilla ice cream, a chocolate swirl, and chocolate chips. Then it’s topped with a nice thick whipped cream and a mini ice cream cookie sandwich. I swapped my chocolate chips out for Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

I’m glad I was somehow able to save room for that tasty and refreshing shake. It was just the right amount of crazy. I know some places are going way over the top with their shakes these days, and I can’t stand it. This was just right.

I really can’t wait to get back up here to try the breakfast selections. You guys should check out their Instagram account to get your juices flowing.

MT KISCO DINER
252 E Main St
Mt Kisco, NY 10549

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