Category Archives: Burgers

Manhatta

There’s another French onion soup burger in the game, from Manhatta.

It’s very tasty but it definitely requires a fork and knife, as it sits in a puddle of soup and has some stewed onions and onion rings on the top bun. In any event, it’s one hell of a swanky place in which to get messy. Lots of fun. Check out the view!

I’ll be back in here for a proper dinner soon enough. Until then, this will be a short review.

MANHATTA
28 Liberty Street, 60th Fl
New York NY 10005

Em

The owner of Em, Patrick Lin, invited me in to try some of their awesome noodle dishes and sandwich creations. I was really excited about this menu.

We started with some smoothies: the classic avocado, and the watermelon. Both were really refreshing and delicious. HOLY SHIT SOMEONE ARREST THEM BECAUSE THE STRAWS ARE PLASTIC!

Then we moved right on to the sandwiches.

The first one I hit was this bacon egg and cheese banh mi sandwich:

This is perfect. It has all the familiar flavors of banh mi, but with bacon, egg and cheese to go with it. That’s a winning combo. I could eat this every day, so this was well worth the hour-long subway ride out here to Bensonhurst.

Next up was the banh bi burger.

This is actually the one “burger” that I would almost prefer to be served without cheese. This one has provolone, but I didn’t think it was necessary (clearly some might love it though). The bright, fresh herbs and acidic pickled slaw are really all you need, except for a sauce or mayo. This, too, was really tasty – cheese or no cheese.

Next, we moved on to the soups.

Hu Tieu is a pork based broth with pork rib, ground pork, and a mix of seafood (shrimp, fish balls, etc). This was light and flavorful. My wife liked this one the best out of the two.

The pho here is really nice. The broth is flavorful but not heavy, and the addition of short rib really turns this into a satisfying meal. There’s lots of brisket, eye round and meatballs in there, yet this still manages to stay light. This was my pick between the two.

For dessert, we had Vietnamese coffee tiramisu. This was super creamy and fluffy, and the coffee flavors came through nicely.

I’ll definitely be back here again to eat my way through the rest of the menu. And the good thing is that this place was packed on a Sunday for lunch. People are really digging this place, and so am I.

EM
1702 86th St
Brooklyn, NY 11214

The Cannibal

The Royalton burger is fantastic (named for the farm where they get a lot of their meats). I usually don’t like brioche buns, but this one held up just fine. What’s inside? Dry aged wagyu beef, beef heart, malted bacon jam, Vermont cheddar, smoked tomato and frisee.

For $27 it comes with fries, and they’re great: crispy shoestring style, nicely seasoned, crisp and flavorful.

But they also sell “animal fat fries,” where the animal fat used to fry the potatoes changes on a nightly basis. When I went, it was beef fat.

These are really nice, but I kinda liked the shoestring fries better.

Next up, General Tso’s pig face!

This thing is insane, and for $85 it can easily feed four people. It comes with cilantro, pickled onion and pancake wraps.

We also tried a few starters. First, the kielbasa pigs in a blanket. The mustard on these was awesome! Great puff pastry, really nice flavor on the meat.

Soy-chili beef jerky. So tender and flavorful!

And finally, an array of desserts. Peanut butter pie, raspberry cheesecake, and an assortment of cookies.

I’ll definitely be coming back to this place to try some steaks. In the meantime, I highly recommend you get your asses over here for the Royalton burger.

THE CANNIBAL BEER & BUTCHER
113 E 29th St
New York, NY 10016

Pig Beach

I finally made it out to Pig Beach. I came for a press event for a pit master’s cookbook, but I was able to try some really nice stuff.

First, the cookbook author, Jess Pryles, cooked up some tri-tip with her black spice rub on it. Delicious.

These slices were turned into tacos.

There was also a nice roasted whole hog for pulled pork sandwiches.

And of course, the amazing Pig Beach burgers.

This place is a blast. If you haven’t been here yet, go while the weather is nice so you can really enjoy the outdoor areas.

PIG BEACH
480 Union St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Donohue’s

I’m a sucker for old restaurants, especially places that date back to the “Mad Men” days of NYC’s mod past. I’m not sure if they filmed anything from Mad Men at Donohue’s, but they should have. It is truly scenic in there, and perfect for a show like that. And that’s kinda where my excitement for this place ends.

I’m not an ageist, and I’m by no means a young whippersnapper. But I think I may have seen Don Draper and Richard Sterling at one of the tables here, struggling to throw back one last martini before their final coronary. I’m 40, and I was probably the youngest person in the joint at 7pm on a Monday.

This place just sucks in old rich people for some reason. We even saw an octogenarian couple pull up in their two-seater Mercedes sports car and park right in front before slowly shambling their way inside. I don’t begrudge that though; it must be a rough haul to hoof it down from 68th and Park to 64th and Lex at that age.

But what’s the fucking attraction? Do they swap spouses or some shit? Is there a back room where they buy and sell peoples’ souls?

Well there you have my synopsis of this review in picture form. I posted those to Instagram the night of the meal. But allow me to expand on that with a full steakhouse review:

Donohue’s overall score: 66

Flavor: 6

The filet wasn’t a nightmare, but it lacked flavor. It was likely cooked without salt and butter. Maybe this method caters to the low cholesterol, low sodium, salt substitute -using, high blood pressure -having, at-risk-for-heart-failure crowd that frequents the place. Or maybe they just don’t know what the fuck they’re doing in the kitchen as far as seasoning goes. In terms of working the broiler, it really was cooked perfectly. The crust on the outside was crispy but not charred or burnt, and there was a nice pink center from edge to edge.

I split this with a friend, though, and he said he had some chewy bits that he spit out. My half was fine in terms of texture.

We also split a burger. This thing sucked, mainly because the stale and lifeless bun needs to be replaced and the meat didn’t have a good sear on it. Otherwise I would have been fine with a simple cheese skirt and the basic toppings. The steak fries that came with it were actually great. They were golden crisp on the outside and soft like mashed potatoes inside. I was actually surprised by them, since I usually dislike steak fries.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 5

I’m not sure why this place holds itself out as a steakhouse when there are really only two cuts of beef being offered: sirloin and filet. That’s only half of the four basic steakhouse staples (assuming you count the sirloin as a strip). That said, they do offer other cuts as specials from time to time, and the menu lists the beef as prime.

Portion Size & Plating: 6

Portion sizes are a mixed bag here. My friend had a shrimp cocktail and there were just four medium-sized shrimp on it – certainly not “jumbo,” as listed on the menu. The crab cakes were small as well. The steak, however, was a good size for a filet; probably about 10 or 12oz. The same goes for the carrot cake; it was also a good portion size. Plating is very basic. Nothing fancy at all.

Price: 6

The pricing is another mixed bag. There’s something to be said about a steak joint that gives you a filet mignon, a salad, a potato and some onion rings for $40. While the majority of the side items sucked, I wouldn’t care if they just nailed the steak. A $40 price tag would still be good for that. I’d go all the time and give the sides and salads to a homeless person. The steaks and entrees are all under $40, and some are even under $30, which is great! But what makes things really odd is that so much other shit is overpriced. The small crab cakes ($19), the “jumbo” shrimp cocktail ($18), the kid’s size martini ($14)…

I’m used to feeling ripped off for getting double that amount of hooch for $18. This was some next level of rip off shit though. Maybe former Donohue’s regular Bernie Madoff is setting the pricing structure here. A seemingly good deal on entrees to get you in the door, and then a shitload of ass raping money grabs that would make Mr. Charles Ponzi himself stare in awe and envy from the beyond.

Bar: 7

Bar and atmosphere are truly the reasons to come here. I love the dim lighting, the checkerboard floor, the warm wood tones, and the “regulars welcome” kind of neighborhood feel to a short, old, unchanged stretch of bar on Lexington. Sit down. Have a drink.

Specials and Other Meats: 6

There are chalkboards in the window out front and on the wall in the back that list many of the same items that are already printed on the menu. One or two things aren’t printed, though, so keep an eye on the chalkboard if you’re looking to be disappointed by an unlisted entree here. As for other meats, they have veal, chicken and pork. Not bad, but then again this place is more like a diner than a steakhouse, so I’m not really surprised at the variety.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6

I started with an order of crab cakes.

I joked that these were like frozen food aisle items, but they really weren’t that bad. These little guys had a good crispy fried crust on the outside, and the inside was all crab meat, for the most part.

The steaks came with a green veggie, three onion rings and your choice of potato. I picked a salad and mashed potatoes. The potatoes may as well have been made from a powdered box mix; bland and somewhat dry. The salad was an afterthought; the kind you might get at a roadside diner on a transparent, filigreed, faux-glass plastic plate with your meatloaf. The onion rings were fine, however.

As I mentioned above, the fries were pretty solid, and the carrot cake was good. But it wasn’t great. It was indeed the best part of the meal, but in no way did this dessert hold a candle to something like the amazing carrot cake dessert at Ocean Prime. One of my buddies asked if they made the dessert in house, and the answer was a resounding no.

Seafood Selection: 7

There are several fish entrees to choose from here. More fish entrees than beef entrees, I think. My buddy had scallops, which were broiled with lemon and white wine (no butter). I think the low sodium, no butter thing is what draws the elderly in here. Or maybe the menu is catered to their palettes. Has to be. That and the nostalgia of reliving their youth in a neighborhood place that’s still open since 1950.

Service: 8

Our waitress forgot to bring us menus for about ten minutes and didn’t tell us about any specials, but that’s not really a big deal. Other than that, there were no problems. She remembered all the beers they had when my buddy asked, and she didn’t need to write anything down for our order. She was nice and pleasant, and she deftly swapped our forks and knives out between apps and entrees.

Ambiance: 9

I truly love the ambiance here. I think it could use some sprucing up though. I’m not talking about a remodel or anything like that, but something to clean it up and make it even more appealing as an old classic. The prices have gone up and the lease is locked for another 10 years, so they can afford to do something if they want to.

In summary, I’m glad I came here, especially since my friends paid for my meal as a birthday gift. I probably wouldn’t go back for a full meal, but I’d definitely stop in to take in the scenery on occasion, and maybe have an order of fries at the bar. Probably a beer, too, since those weren’t painfully overpriced like the martinis.

To try to answer my own question about why so many old rich people go to Donohue’s: I think the low sodium, no butter thing is what draws the elderly in. Or maybe the cooks just cater to the palettes of their regulars. There’s nothing official or printed about no salt and no butter. It was just very evident. So that, plus the nostalgia of old folks reliving their youth in a neighborhood place that’s still open since 1950. As for the wealthy aspect? No idea. Must be the neighborhood.

DONOHUE’S STEAKHOUSE
845 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10065

Harry’s

Harry’s overall score:  86

I came in to Harry’s for lunch on a weekend with my wife and parents. Here’s how it went down:

Flavor: 8

I went with the standard bone-in rib eye.

It comes out pre-sliced, so don’t give me shit. It was pretty good. I’ve had better, and I’ve certainly had worse. 8/10. I think it just needed a better crust, a bit more seasoning and more punch of dry-aged flavor.

My mom hit the boneless cajun rib eye.

She wen’t to work on this before I had a chance to shoot it. But I did try it, and it was unique. Unlike the other cajun rib eyes in town, there was no hint of cumin on this. But it did taste like pepper and other earthy spices. Pretty good. 8/10.

My dad had the filet mignon.

He crushed it before I had a chance to try it, but he said he liked it.

The Kobe burger is likely not made with real Kobe beef, but I’ll bite. Actually my wife bit, and I had half.

It was cooked nicely, and all the toppings were good (pickles and caramelized onions), however, the bun fell apart in my hands on the first bite. I had to fork and knife the rest. Here’s a shot of the beauty before the bun went to shit.

It comes with fries. These were pretty good, but could have used a bit more crisp:

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

I was here for brunch on a weekend, and the menu was still ample in terms of steak cuts. I was impressed with the variety.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are large and plating is a step above the average nondescript steakhouse style. I liked the metal cooking plates on which the rib eyes were served.

Price: 8

Here’s a look at our William:

There are some pricey items but some great bargains as well.

Bar: 10

This is one of the most beautiful and inviting bars I’ve ever seen.

I almost wish I lived or worked downtown just so I could have an excuse to come here more often.

There’s even some great lounge seating off the bar in a semi-secluded room. Lovely. Also, the cocktails were insanely good.

Pictured here is the Old Mr. Johnson, which is easily in my top five for “Old Fashioned” or “Manhattan”-like cocktail renderings. And you’ve gotta love that H that they branded into the perfectly clear ice cube. It’s not a mold – it’s a hot brand.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were some specials read to us, though I don’t remember what they were. But the fact that they were not on a strict “brunch menu selections only” policy on the weekend is a good sign.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We had a few things from this category. First, the tempura onion rings.

These didn’t strike me as having a typical tempura batter texture. They were a bit heavy in terms of the fry, and the onions inside were thick (but cooked through at least). The unique thing about these is that they almost tasted like curry or turmeric.

I already mentioned the fries above in the flavor section for the burger, so I won’t re-discuss them here. What I will discuss, however, is the insane house smoked Canadian bacon appetizer.

Yeah. That’s an entire pork chop that they like to call a side of bacon at Harry’s, for just $18. Get it. As your entree. It was the best item of the meal! That’s apple sauce on the side.

We had some desserts as well. In particular, I liked the lemon meringue pie the best.

Not as good as some places, but up there for sure. The warm skillet cookie was a bit too sweet, so get this only if you plan to share it.

Seafood Selection: 8

I didn’t even bother to fucking look. Maybe next time I’ll hit some shellfish from the dinner menu.

Service: 9

Our waiter was good, but he had a shift change or a break right in the middle of our service. The new waiter had to kind of figure out what the fuck was happening, and I felt bad for him. Overall, great service though. My cocktail glass had a big chip on the rim, which was crazy sharp. I was surprised they didn’t catch it on the way out to me, but they fixed me a new drink quickly when I told them. Table bread was warm and nice as well.

Ambiance: 10

Simply amazing decor here. Truly gorgeous from top to bottom.

I actually wish I had taken more photos of the decor. They really did a great job with the space.

HARRY’S
1 Hanover Square
New York, NY 10004

Warren 77

This joint puts up some solid pub food. I came in with a group of food bloggers to help them promote their Stanley Cup game night specials (the joint is owned by an ex-NY Ranger). Anyway, here’s what we had:

Wings

These are breaded and served lollipop style. I liked them, despite generally having less of a preference for breaded wings.

Nachos

Stacked high with tons of toppings. Really good.

Boneless Chicken Wings

For the vagina in your group who doesn’t want any bones. Still good though – and also breaded.

Fried Pickles

A little too salty for me, but I liked the texture and sauce.

Philly Cheesesteak

I loved that this was on a hot dog potato bun. They said they usually serve it on different bread but ran out. I say stick with the hot dog bun. It was great. Low budget and tasty.

Double Cheeseburger

This was nice and basic too, but well executed. For $11 this is a great deal (fries were $3 extra, shoestring style, and  very nicely cooked). Their “77 Sauce” is like a Big Mac sauce. Dig it.

WARREN 77
77 Warren St
New York, NY 10007

Ben & Jacks Steakhouse (44th Street)

Ben & Jacks (44th Street) overall score: 90

I’ve been a big fan of Ben & Jack’s for a few years now, after several delicious visits to the location down in the Flatiron area. They recently re-opened their East 44th Street location, so I went in to give it a try with another food blogger pal of mine. Chef Admir wouldn’t let us order for two. Instead he fed us enough food for five. Check it out below:

Flavor: 8

Porterhouse: 7

This baby was cooked perfectly. It had a great char on one side, and it was cooked to a nice pink throughout.

Cajun Rib Eye: 9

What a great crust on this baby. And I could really taste the dry-aged flavor coming through. The cajun spice treatment didn’t overwhelm it at all.

Prime Rib: 9

This prime rib was definitely roasted to perfection, and since it was dry-aged, the flavor was extra intense and delicious.

As you can see, however, it almost looks as if the meat hit a hot surface to get an additional sear or cook on the cut.

Perhaps it was sliced on a hot surface, or it was a cut that was exposed on one side while roasting. Either way, it was delicious and worthy of your attention.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

This place uses Master Purveyors to supply the beef, and Chef Admir dry-aged everything in-house in a custom aging room. Everything is prime, and really friggin’ good. There’s a huge variety of cuts here, running the gamut on all the standard cuts and then some.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are good here. The plating is basic yet rustic and elegant on the steak and sides, but with the apps you will get some very beautiful looking platess.

Price: 10

This place charges average to below average prices, which is great given the midtown location and the fact that the steaks are delicious.

Bar: 9

Great big marble bar with lots of light coming in from the nearby wall of windows. They mix a nice martini too. I’d definitely hang out here and chow down on a burger or something before ordering a steak.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

I didn’t poke around too much into the specials and other meats sections of the menu, but there is good representation here. One thing I will mention is their happy hour burger special. For just $13.95 you get an 8oz dry-aged wagyu burger with fries. Awesome.

It just needs a potato bun and a sauce. Then it’s perfect.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

Great creamless creamed spinach, just like at the other location. Really unique mac and cheese, made with shallots and butter in the mix for a bomb of flavorful decadence. Great crispy hash brown potatoes, sliced thin and cooked with onions. Also some really awesome thick cut steakhouse bacon.

Seafood Selection: 10

I didn’t try any here yet, but I know the other location was great, and the same kind of variety in menu items is present here as well, so I’m piggy-backing the 10 score over here.

Service: 10

Top notch. Always. These guys are great and will make you feel like royalty.

Ambiance: 8

This is a brand new restaurant with really nice space and elegance. There’s even an outdoor area in the back for when the nice weather finally gets here.

BEN & JACK’S STEAKHOUSE
219 East 44th Street
New York, NY 10017

Denny’s

I ate a burger at Denny’s this past week for the first time in my life. I was actually kind of impressed with it. The burger meat needed a punch in the flavor department, and the sauce on the burger was too plentiful and too sweet (bourbon sauce), but over all it was pretty decent.

The burger patty itself was loosely packed (a good thing), and it had a great crisp all over. It wasn’t overcooked either. The toppings were layered on in just the right amounts, and there was good cheese coverage.

The cheddar bun was a big surprise. I was expecting it to flake apart and crumble under pressure, but it was fresh, pliable yet soft, and held up to scrutiny.

I’d eat here again, though maybe I’d opt for a standard cheeseburger instead of the bacon bourbon burger, so as to avoid the overly sweet sauce.

DENNY’S
60 Nott Terrace
Schenectady, NY 12308

Harolds Meat + Three

Last night I tried a ton of really great American, and specifically NY/NJ, comfort food here at Harold’s Meat + Three. There’s a lot to discuss, so I might as well get right down to it.

WINGS

Brined, smoked and grilled, these are some of the best, most deeply flavorful wings I’ve ever had. They have a great charcoal, wood-fired flavor to them.

PIZZA

We sampled two wood fired flatbread pizzas. The first, an arugula, cheese and ham:

The second, egg, cheese and Taylor ham. Amazing. Off the menu, but you can ask for it at brunch time.

BURGERS & SANDWICHES

Breakfast burger with sunny side egg, taylor ham and American. This tasted like a great white castle slider mixed with a classic deli style egg sandwich.

The South Jersey Soul Crusher: five thick cut, griddled slices of Taylor ham (or pork roll, depending on which part of Jersey you’re in), on an everything bagel. Perfect hangover food.

Egg sandwich with American cheese, salt, pepper and ketchup. A classic, but on a potato bun, and with some pork roll added for good measure. So tasty.

The award winning burger. This baby is simple and delicious. Two smash patties, lots of american, pickles, and a smear of ketchup and mustard, all on a potato bun. Perfect.

BLT. Perfectly executed with Harold Moore’s smoked bacon and crispy Taylor ham bits.

Speaking of smoked bacon, we had a plate of that as well. Incredible.

CHOPS

The rib eye steak.

This is wet aged and simply grilled to a perfect medium rare. Served with an array of veggies so you feel good about yourself.

The lamb blade chop.

I love when places offer interesting and less common cuts of meat. Harold nails it with a citrus marinade, Italian herbs and crushed red pepper. A squeeze from the grilled lemon really made this do backflips on my tastebuds. Check out the perfect cook temp inside:

PASTA (sweet potato tortellini)

There’s smoked ricotta, sage and brown butter in those beauties.

TRIPE STEW

That’s garlic bread on the side there with it. Super tender, great sauce with aji panca chili.

BISCUITS

This biscuit with pork roll bits inside was incredible. Great way to start the meal (sorry I’m adding it here so late).

DESSERT

Miniature soft serve vanilla ice cream cones. My favorite kind of ice cream. I’m a simple man.

Chocolate cake with ice cream on top. Gotta have the rainbow sprinkles on the frosting too.

Not one bad bite in the bunch. I really suggest you get down here and try this place ASAP. So good, and currently still somewhat “under the radar” of people who like to line up like assholes for food. Not for long though. This place is amazing.

HAROLD’S MEAT + THREE
2 Renwick St
New York NY 10013