Category Archives: American

Hillstone

My wife and I tried this place today on the recommendation of a friend of mine who spoke highly of the prime rib.

I give this a solid 8/10. For $46 you also get two sides with it, and the slab of roasty, beefy goodness is very well portioned.

It had a nice cap, good flavor both on the crust and throughout, and they serve it with a great seasoning salt (tasted like a sweet but spicy old bay salt), horseradish cream sauce, and gravy in a tea kettle.

The item that stole the show for me though was this grilled artichoke appetizer that our really nice and helpful waitress Marissa recommended.

The halves were perfectly seasoned, steamed, grilled, and then hit with some finishing salt. Absolutely awesome.

They serve some good crafted cocktails, and the bar is impressive as well.

Not a bad lunch!

HILLSTONE
153 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Gem

I took my wife to Gem to celebrate our 9yr anniversary. Gem is home to the young rising star fine dining chef Flynn McGarry. He’s only 19yrs old, which means The Cake Dealer and I have been married for nearly half of his life!

Anyway, the meal was a set price tasting menu, which ran about $330 (tax and tip included, but before drinks, which was an additional $78 for three each). Here’s how it went down:

Everyone at the 6pm seating was given a glass of champagne upon entering, which I thought was cool. My wife and I opted out of the $100 drink pairing and decided to try three cocktails throughout the meal instead. They don’t have high proof liquor yet, but they do a good job making cocktails with wine, champagne and liqueurs. I think they also serve beer as well.

Drink 1: Cynar, sweet vermouth, champagne.

Course 1: Local Shellfish/Seafood

This array of beautiful plates consisted of the folowing:

Nori crisp with clam, fava bean and preserved citrus.

This was my first bite. It had a nice fresh, briny sea flavor and qas a good way to wake up the taste buds.

Surf clam with grilled blueberries and rose.

Nice contrast of sweet and savory here. Tasty broth in the shell as well.

Caviar with sorrel dressing and green almond.

A really flavorful and herbacious spoonful of joy.

Scallop with grilled cucumber and salted plum.

This was the star of the course. Really nicely balanced and incredibly flavorful.

Course 2: Smoked Cod with Apple, Caraway and Horseradish

This was probably my favorite dish of the meal. The broth was awesome, and the contrast between sweet/tart apple and smoky/savory fish was perfectly executed.

Course 3: Grilled Asparagus Chawanmushi with Ham and Dried Fruits

This consisted of both shaved and cooked asparagus, an asparagus custard, ham broth, and what we guessed were figs and cherries. Very nice. I think this was my wife’s favorite dish.

Course 4: Grilled Squid with Morels, Blackberry, and Hazelnut Mole

This was both beautiful and delicious. I really loved the flavor combination with the hazelnut.

Drink 2: Cynar, sweet vermouth, sherry.

Course 5: Ramp and Calabrian Chili Lasagna

This was a perfect dish. I could eat an entire sheet pan of this shit. It has a light spice from the chilies, a great freshness from the ramps, and a good crisp texture from the baking process. The delicate use of cheese, pinenuts and a pesto based sauce made this really unique.

Course 6: Cabbage with Foie Gras and Chicken Vadouvan

I loved this course as well. I only wish there was more actual foie gras meat. But the cabbage was served two ways: crisped and cooked with a sort of chicken broth reduction. The rich foie fattiness and savory flavors were abundant in this dish. Excellent.

Course 7: Aged Beet, Creamed Beet Greens and Beet Bordelaise

This was a vegetarian play on steakhouse cuisine. The beet was dry aged, smoked, and seared. When it first came out I thought it was venison. The flavor was deep and hearty from the prep and cooking process, but it still held true to beet flavor. The best part was the creamed beet greens. A near exact replication of good creamed spinach. The bordelaise was a bit heavy handed. Half of that amount would have been fine.

Course 8: Pork Feast

This course consisted of the following dishes:

Pork neck with a sauce made from snails, mustard seed and smoked maple.

I liked this, especially when dragging the pork through as much sauce as possible. Perfectly cooked, and a rare cut of pork that you hardly ever see being utilized in fine dining.

Pork and chive sausage with broccoli.

This was delicious. The sausage meat was formed around a shaved stalk of broccoli before being cooked. It reminded me of some shrimp paste sausage items you sometimes see in asian cuisines.

Roasted sweet potato logs with black sesame.

These were a bit sweet, so I recommend eating them last even though our waitress said that there was no particular order to this course.

Pulled pork lettuce wraps.

The fresh herbs combined with the sweet meat made me think of asian cuisine here as well.

Drink 3: Rhubarb cooking liquids, St. Germain and champagne. Sorry, no pic. It was pink, bubbly and in a champagne glass.

Dessert: Rhubarb and Green Strawberry Galette, with Olive Oil and Thyme Mascarpone, and Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry Compote

The ice cream and mascarpone were meant as toppings.

This course really stole the show, and it finished the meal with a bang. We both loved it. The tart was so light and flakey, and all the flavors really paired well together.

That does it. Great spot for a date! Tip is included in the pricing here, and you pay in advance when you make a reservation. So you should only expect to pay up for drinks.

GEM
116 Forsyth St
New York, NY 10002

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

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

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

Muriel’s

Muriel’s has a great jazz brunch, where a three piece band plays some nice tunes as you dig in. My wife and I loved this spot so much on our trip in 2009 that we went twice, and we even had the band play a request for us.

The restaurant is a beautiful converted townhouse near Jackson Square.

I started with a bloody. I love the addition of spicy pickled beans and okra in the bloodies down here.

And I also devoured some of their toasty, buttery table bread with whipped butter.

This place makes a great turtle soup, classically prepared with a drizzle of sherry at the end. Still as delicious as I remember it.

But I was really blown away by this stack of fried green tomatoes, shrimp and remoulade. I have a deep love for fried green tomatoes for some reason.

I ordered a pork chop for my entree. It was decent, but a little bit sweet. I guess since this was brunch, they were using more maple flavors in the preparation than savory flavors.

For dessert, I had a bite of my wife’s bread pudding. I loved it. I’m a big fan of bread pudding. It was soft inside, and caramelized on the outside. Perfect.

That about does it.

MURIEL’S
801 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Red Fish Grill

It was our last night in New Orleans and I realized we hadn’t tried any jambalaya yet. We were snacking on oysters and sipping drinks at Red Fish Grill while waiting for our next dinner reservation when I saw jambalaya on the menu. I had to get it, despite knowing I had dinner in an hour.

It was filled with shrimp, andouille and chicken, and the rice had a perfect risotto type of texture and spread to it. Aside from the fact that the shrimp weren’t de-veined and de-pooped, this was an excellent dish. Not too salty, as these can sometimes become.

As for the oysters, very good. Crisp and fresh, but not quite as good as Legacy Kitchen.

RED FISH GRILL
115 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Legacy Kitchen’s Oyster Counter & Tap

My wife and I stopped in here for a quick dozen oysters and a drink before heading out for the evening in New Orleans.

I don’t know much about the restaurant other than it being connected to a hotel, but these were the freshest and best tasting gulf oysters on the half shell that we had in New Orleans on this trip.

LEGACY KITCHEN’S OYSTER COUNTER & TAP
817 Common St
New Orleans, LA 70112

Johnny’s Po-Boys

This’ll be a quick bang out review, since three of us split an oyster po-boy here just to make sure we got some of the local cuisine into our guts.

Here it is!

Unfortunately they forgot to add the sauce and the tomatoes/fixin’s (French style). I was bummed about that, but a little hot sauce went a long way to remedy that.

We also tried the gator sausage.

A bit underwhelming, possibly cut with pork, and it left me with some awful smelling burps until I ate something else. I’m sure you wanted to read that.

JOHNNY’S PO-BOYS
511 St Louis St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Cochon Restaurant

Cochon Restaurant and its sister joint “Butcher” are well known in New Orleans for serving some great meaty grub.

My friends and I went in a big group, so we got to try a lot of items. Here’s the full menu (minus the daily specials).

We started with some fried gator.

These bites were excellent. Gator meat, if you haven’t had it before, is like a cross between catfish and chicken in texture: tender but springy. These were spicy and saucy but still fried up nice and crisp on the outside.

Next up, probably one of the best dishes of the meal, braised pork cheeks.

Incredibly tender, and again with a bit of spice. Awesome way to begin the meal. I could eat this over and over.

Next up, a gorgeous charcuterie board.

The standout here was the pork rillette (in the tin cup). So smooth and tasty. But everything else was really nice as well (head cheese, coppa, prosciutto, homemade bologna, and even the pickled veggies).

Liver and onions, also well executed and delicious, is what my wife ordered to start. This had a great pepper jelly that really popped. It went nicely with the fresh mint.

Fried boudin (sausage) and rice balls. These were so soft inside and crispy outside.

For my entree I ordered a rib eye (of course) that was on the list of daily specials. It was essentially the center eye part of the rib eye only – no cap at all.

While this was very small, it was priced accordingly ($28). They misfired my first cut and went over, but they were smart enough not to bring it out to me. The second one, however, was slightly under from medium rare, and it felt rushed.

No matter, though. I’d rather eat a rare steak than a well done steak. The issue for me was that it just wasn’t very good. The sauce didn’t quite do it for me, and it was described as being roasted. I was sort of expecting prime rib given the description. 5/10.

My wife ordered the winning dish here. Ham hock.

It had a delicious dry spice rub on it that was a cross between sweet and spicy, and it was cooked perfectly throughout. The veggies, yogurt and quinoa underneath was a nice touch to make the fully composed dish well rounded and complete.

Their famous dish here, the cochon, was tasty but way too salty for my liking. One or two bites was all I could do. It also wasn’t that pretty so I didn’t bother trying to get a great shot of it.

Their oyster and bacon sandwich was massive.

It was loaded with tons of fried gulf oysters and smoky bacon. And it went nicely with some of their spicy vinegar and hot sauce.

Overall this was a pretty great meal with the exception of the steak. I would definitely go here again.

COCHON RESTAURANT
930 Tchoupitoulas St
Suite A
New Orleans, LA 70130