The Norm is the restaurant inside the Brooklyn Museum. I was recently invited in to try their burgers and to help promote them on social media.
The space is gorgeous here, and it truly fits with the nice artwork and artifacts on display in the museum.
I browsed the menu while drinking a bloody Mary. This was nice and savory, and had just the right amount of spice to it.
The burgers were delicious. The first one I tried was “The Norman.” Topped with cheddar and bacon, and some house made pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion.
The second one was an interesting Japanese fusion type burger. The patty contained mushrooms as well as beef, and it was glazed with a teriyaki sauce, and topped with caramelized onion, pickled daikon and carrots.
I also tried the pho flavored ramen. This was an interesting fusion of Vietnamese and Japanese soups. The Sun noodles were perfectly cooked, but the addition of too much fish sauce muddied the flavors that were cooked into the broth with the various cuts of beef.
It definitely smelled like pho though, because of the herbs. The soft boiled egg and flank steak on top were also perfectly cooked, like the noodles.
This ramen was indeed tricky. My wife and I both liked it enough to finish it – even after crushing two burgers with fries – but we were perplexed by the competing flavors within. Not bad by any means, just different.
I think the mushroom burger embodied the same feeling, only we loved that one and the ramen we just liked. I’d definitely go back to try more stuff here. They do a great job, and are definitely thinking outside the box.
at The Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Pkwy
Ground Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11238
I tried some smoked wings and a burger at this joint in Hudson. The wings were pretty good, but had more of a tomato and red pepper sauce on them as opposed to something more traditional like Buffalo sauce.
The burger needed a bun upgrade, but was otherwise pretty great. Standard double patty style with “special sauce” that was reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing.
My wife picked up a Gilt City deal for David Burke’s joint at Bloomingdale’s. I noticed some nice looking sandwiches, a decent looking burger, and a hanger steak on the menu, so I was psyched to try it out.
Unfortunately, the special menu for the flash deal eliminated all of the things I was interested in trying: pastrami sandwich, French dip, burger, and hanger steak frites. But not to worry! This deal actually supplied us with a LOT of food, and, contrary to out last experience with a Burke joint (Fabrick), the food here was really good.
They start you with warm cheddar popovers. I can eat a basket full of them. Very tasty.
I ordered the grilled tofu Thai peanut salad to start (please don’t kill me). It was actually really good! It had an acidic pop to it from the various citrus and fish sauce additives, and good texture from the jicama and cabbage slaw.
My wife had the tomato soup, which was velvety smooth, topped with a Peter North -like splash of basil oil, and accompanied by a miniature grilled cheese sandwich.
For my entree, I had the grilled salmon.
It was cooked to a nice medium temperature, and it sat on a bed of slaw that was similar to my starter salad, only heavier on the slaw component as opposed to the lettuce. It also had a pop of cumin in it that altered the flavor profile a bit. The salmon skin had a great crisp to it as well.
My wife had chicken Milanese; breaded and fried tender chicken cutlet, topped with arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese, and garnished with grape tomatoes and lemon wedges.
There was a nice tomato-based sauce underneath too, but just the right amount so that nothing got soggy or smothered.
For dessert, I had this chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. I usually don’t go for chocolate cakes, but this was delicious.
My wife had the sorbet with fresh fruit. Really nice, actually, when you mixed both desserts together for a bite.
If you can still find this deal online, I recommend it. While they severely limit the menu on you, what you do get is good quality and a lot of it. You’l leave full, and with a feeling that you got a good deal.
DAVID BURKE AT BLOOMINGDALES
1000 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10022
My wife took me to The Grill for a birthday dinner. I had no idea this place existed, but apparently it’s the former location of the Four Seasons.
Famed Torrisi restaurateurs opened this joint and stuck to an old fashioned theme with things like a wheeled cart for prime rib and a “meat press” for squeezing the juices out of various bits of fowl in order to create a nice sauce reduction for their pasta app.
The crab cake exhibits some of that classic technique as well, with thin sliced scalloped potatoes forming a crust on top of the $36 lump crab cake appetizer.
A nice refreshing endive and apple salad cut the fat of our steak entree perfectly.
But for $220, this 50-day, dry-aged Creekstone Farms 40oz steak for two was way overpriced.
It really should have been half that price, but I will say that, despite the wallet raping, this was a pretty good steak. It had a great seared crust, and was cooked to a nice medium rare throughout. 8/10.
Dessert was a fun throwback as well, with this fruit cake style rum raisin ice cream.
Everything here is delicious, but at over $500 all-in for this meal (we had four drinks total), you really need to be ready for a gorging.
Bevy is the new restaurant that took the place of The Back Room at One57. My wife took me here for an early birthday dinner. I was excited to hit this joint, because they have rib eye fat cap steak on the menu (deckle, aka spinalis dorsi), as well as a bison rib eye. We tried both.
We started with the rib eye cap steak as a shared appetizer. The portion size is 8oz, so this was perfect to share as an app.
This was perfectly cooked, super tender and amazingly flavorful. At $48 it’s a bit pricey, but totally worth it given the quality. 10/10.
Both the rib eye cap and the bison rib eye hail from Fossil Farms. I’ve encountered these guys at food shows in the past, and the quality is superb. I hope to work with them in the future and feature some more of their proteins here on the website. Especially the exotics.
Anyway, we ate the rib eye cap steak with some crispy lemon oyster mushrooms, which they sent to us on the house!
This is a reprise of a dish that used to be on the Back Room menu, which I really liked. It’s just as good as I remember. It’s also really damn beautiful.
Several menu items were carried over, actually. I was glad to see that many of the good ones remained.
But now for the big guns. The 40oz, 28-day dry-aged bison rib eye. It’s actually two chops on the bone.
It comes with a vinaigrette dressed frisee salad and asparagus. But the plating is gorgeous. We actually fanned it out a little so you can more easily see the perfectly pink interior.
Bison is slightly gamy, but unless you’re looking for it, you probably wouldn’t notice a flavor difference between bison and beef.
It’s typically more lean than beef, and sometimes has a more iron-metallic flavor profile than beef. Very good. 8/10.
We ate this baby with sides of paprika dusted steak fries and trumpet mushrooms. Both were great. I was impressed with the crisp on the fries. So good! I usually dislike the massive quarter-of-a-potato style steak fries, but I’d get these again and again, every time I eat here.
The trumpets were good, but I did enjoy the oyster mushrooms more. These were served with minted labneh, which added a nice fresh pop of flavor.
Dessert was great as well. We ordered one, but they gave us two. Great service! In fact, Amanda was a wonderful waitress. She knew her stuff and had great recommendations.
First was this apple pie with a sugar cookie crust. So awesome! That’s vanilla ice cream up front, covered with a nice caramel sauce.
The other dessert was cheesecake with lemon pudding and espresso ice cream. Really tough to choose a best between these two.
I definitely recommend this place. If you happen to carry the “Founders Card,” you get 20% off when you use it to pay.
153 W. 57th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019
Antique Bar & Bakery is a new joint in Hoboken. I know what you’re thinking: Fuck Jersey! But for real, everything at this place is absolutely amazing. And I can’t in good conscience fuck with Jerz: I’m from Long Island, and everyone knows that LI, NJ and Staten Island are all retarded cousins from the same demented family.
Anyway, when you walk in, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home. It has an old school feel to it. There are a few nice nooks for seating, and a great bar with really nicely fashioned cocktails.
In the back room, you’re basically IN the kitchen, which is really fun to experience. The skylight overhead illuminates the room with a nice, pleasing natural light.
The back wall boasts an insane coal oven that cranks up to over 1000 degrees, and then to the left of that, there’s a cooler area (about 500 degrees).
On the side wall is all your normal kitchen gadgetry like a gas oven, burners, sinks, expediting station, etc.
Okay but enough about that – let me get to the food. Chef Paul Gerard is doing amazing things here. Everything has a sense of familiarity, but also a sense of “newness.” He’s accumulated aspects of Soul Food, Cajun/Creole, Italian, American and French cuisines and balled them up into a delicious, enveloping and immersive experience: especially when you sit in the back near the kitchen (a must-do if you’re anything like me).
We started with a snack of blistered shishito peppers and pickled watermelon. The peppers go into the hot coal oven and finish up really quickly – like within a minute. It’s pretty neat because you can feel the capsaicin in the air once they get cranking. If you sit close like we did, you may sneeze or cough a bit. That’s how IN the kitchen you are. So cool. It makes you feel like you’re part of the staff.
Raw Fennel Salad with Burnt Orange Marmalade: All the burnt items are done right in their crazy oven. They add a great natural bitterness to the food (and cocktails), which cuts the fat and sweetness of any complimentary ingredients. This salad was awesome: crisp, fresh and satisfying.
Hot Oil Shrimp: Incredible dish. Really nice heat from the peppers, and the shrimp retain a lot of shell flavor from being blasted in the oven. Perfectly cooked.
Rice Balls: I mean, these guys even managed to make rice balls interesting, new and fun. The outside is really crisp and the inside is soft and gooey from the provolone fondue. You need to try them.
Fresh Mozzarella: This shit is made to order, right there at the prep counter. You can watch the guy stretch and pull until its ready. It’s topped with some cracked pepper and a few cherry tomatoes. Eat this quickly while it’s still warm, otherwise it can firm up a bit and lose its softness.
Burger: The only slight I will make about this entire meal is that the burger was a bit overcooked for our liking. But the flavor was off the hinges, even though our burger was medium-well. It gets some dry aged fat (carved right off the steaks), some chuck and some flank in the grind – made in house, obviously.
It’s topped with shredded cheese, spicy fries and pickled chili peppers. Despite the shape of the burger being spherical, it really was formed well: Loosely packed and not overworked; hollowed out top bun so it isn’t too tall and unwieldy. This burger has real potential to be one of the best around. I need to come back and try it again, and make sure the temp is pink through the center. Don’t shy away from ordering it just because mine was a bit over.
Whole Octopus: This is a special menu item, which you can order as a half or whole portion. The octopus is treated in a similar way as the shrimp, but it is tossed in an olive puttanesca sauce that really blew me away. It was cooked very nicely too: snappy to the tooth, but not chewy. Great char flavor from the oven.
Whole Fish: This was black bass, and it was really damn delicious. When you cook seafood hot and fast, you retain all that great juiciness in the flesh, so that nothing ever dries out. That’s what happens with the fish here. You can’t go wrong.
Whole Chicken: Absurdly delicious, and I’m not even really a chicken man. This is plenty big to feed the table.
Dirty Rib Eye: I was amazed. I watched as Chef Paul went through the entire process, and I even got some good video.
First, he broke down a 28-day dry aged rack of ribs that the restaurant got from DeBragga Meats. Antique Bar & Bakery has its own shelf in the DeBragga dry-aging room.
The steaks are allowed to come up to room temperature so that they cook better.
Once they’re ready, they’re coated with coarse salt, slapped on a cast iron skillet, and then popped into that ripping-hot coal oven for about five minutes. This hell-fire licks every square inch of surface area on the meat, giving it a great outer crust.
The steak is then pulled out of the crazy oven, placed onto a bed of herbs, hit with some drawn butter, and then finished in the other oven until the center comes up to the proper temperature.
Finally, it rests for a while before being sliced and plated – sometimes up to 20 minutes. While resting, it gets brushed with more herbs, so you really get that great herb flavor with each bite.
Alright here’s the video. I made you suffer through reading all of that first before linking it, because I’m a dick.
The herbs really make it. In fact, they have herbs drying and hanging all over the back room. It was pretty cool, and reminded me of my dad’s garage, which always seems to be decorated with dangling peppers and herbs from his garden.
Needless to say, this steak is an easy 10/10 for flavor. It’s really unbelievable. I suggest you get out there immediately to try it.
Hard Herb Hanger: Perfectly cooked, great crisp on the outside, and wonderful flavors from the herb roasting process in the ovens. This is a great option for those who aren’t willing to go big with the rib eye but still want to eat beef. Just $23? Awesome. 8/10. We actually had this come out alongside our desserts and we still devoured it instantly. Haha!
All entrees can be consumed with a variety of available sauces. We tried them all, but I really liked the herb puree and puttanesca the best. As for the steaks? No sauce needed. There’s so much flavor on those babies already.
Okay let me address some of the fantastic sides we tried.
Charred Kale with Pickled Chilis: Really nice acidic punch. This is similar to something like collared greens in Soul Food cuisine, only with a new twist.
Blackened Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts: Awesome. This is my new favorite beet dish. And if you’re one of those weird bastards that doesn’t eat meat, then this is the way to go for you. Very satisfying, satiating and fulfilling.
Fava Beans: Holy shit! Traditional French styling here with butter and shallots, and finished with mint, but so great. I kept going back for more of these green delights. Probably because they’re served with Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette, a raw cow’s milk cheese.
Fingerling Potatoes: As I said above, Chef Paul is making things in a new way here. These babies are roasted with dried, aged, shaved Bottarga fish flakes (similar to what you might see being used to make dashi broth, but more specific). It might not sound that appetizing, but it adds such an amazing earthy flavor to the potatoes. Trust me. And with a topping of cheese and that awesome crisp from the hot oven, this side is not to be skipped.
Now on to the desserts. We tried a few, and all of them were excellent, just like every-fucking-thing else in this meal.
Lady Ashton’s Dirty Chocolate Cake: Served family style in a large cast iron skillet, this is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m not huge on chocolate either, but I loved this.
Frozen Cannoli: This is essentially a cannoli in sundae form. Incredibly tasty, and equally beautiful.
Dandy’s Decadent Cookie (with sweet milk ice cream): This baby is baked to order, and it is a massive, soft, delicious cookie with ice cream on top. This is my kind of dessert.
Burnt Lemon & Marshmallow Pie: I have a weakness for this type of stuff. It was a great twist on lemon meringue pie.
TCB Sundae: This is based on the Elvis sandwich. Burnt banana bread, caramelized banana, peanut butter ice cream, candied slab bacon, milk chocolate covered potato chips, and all of it draped in gold! Just like Elvis would want it baby! Chef Paul rocks harder than Elvis, if you ask me.
Holy shit. Is that everything? I’m dying to go back here. Get your ass out to Hoboken ASAP. You will thank me.
ANTIQUE BAR & BAKERY
122 Willow Ave
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Alice’s Arbor is a true farm-to-table concept in Brooklyn by Dimitri Vlahakis (Motorino, La Gamelle, Esperanto). They use products sourced from 13 local purveyors, and fresh pastries and bread from sister restaurant La Gamelle.
The menu features breakfast all day, like this hanger steak and eggs that I had for brunch:
That’s a great meal for just $15. The steak was a perfect medium rare with a nice crust on the outside. The black bean sauce was unique and delicious. 8/10. Eggs were exactly as ordered, and the paprika-spiced potatoes carried a nice comfortable heat.
They also offer signature sandwiches like the Banh Mi Croissant (braised chicken or pork with daikon, carrot, cucumber and jalapeño). We went with pork:
This reminded me a lot of the Thai dish called larb as posed to a classic banh mi. It was savory, pungent and flavorful like larb, only in sandwich format. The croissant was an interesting choice for the sandwich. It ties back to the French colonial and Vietnamese roots of banh mi, but there’s just something about a classic baguette that holds up really well to the juiciness of these kinds of sandwiches. The flavors were great, but I ended up using my fork and knife to take this baby down. That said, I’d still eat this again for sure.
There’s also an exceptional selection of dinner entrees from the wood-burning oven, like Sullivan County Farms Trout filet over green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes in a lemon brown butter sauce, topped with almonds and capers.
Other favorites include the unique, customizable Mac & Cheese with spiral pasta, cheddar and goat cheese bechamel topped with toasted breadcrumbs (with optional add-ins of pulled pork, truffle oil or jalapeños); or the popular brunch items like crab hash with poached egg, lemon Hollandaise and greens.
Daily happy hour specials from 4p.m.-7p.m. include $5 for draft beer, $6 draft wine, $2 off well drinks and $1 oysters. Awesome deal!
The interior evokes cabin-esque ski lodge decor, perhaps from the northwest: An upcycled vintage vibe with aged brick walls, repurposed wood paneling and driftwood branch light fixtures. Very cool.
I definitely recommend hitting this joint.
549 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216
I’ve been fixing to get to this spot in The Pennsy for a while, and I finally had the opportunity last weekend. I organized a bunch of Instagram food savages to come in and shoot pics, sample the menu and promote the LaFrieda brand, which I have come to love so much.
First up, the roast beef sandwich:
This baby is served cold cut style, with bleu cheese, horseradish aioli, pickled red onions and watercress on a toasted semolina roll.
It’s very difficult to choose a favorite among so many selections here. It really depends on what mood you’re in.
Next was the black Angus steak sandwich.
That’s sliced filet mignon with melted Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions, baby spinach and au jus on a toasted ciabatta roll. Awesome.
Grandpa’s meatball sandwich is pretty tight.
Tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on a pressed ciabatta roll. Simple and delicious.
This fucker was intensely flavorful.
Slow roasted pork with broccoli rabe and melted provolone on a ciabatta roll. So juicy!
“World’s Greatest Hot Dog” is a bold claim for a menu item to make, but LaFrieda really delivers with this.
This baby is actually two hot dogs with honey mustard, caramelized onions and hot peppers.
As you can see, the dogs are split and grilled, which is a big win for me. I love that preparation.
And finally, the short rib platter.
This is slow roasted and maple glazed, served with greens and a celery root slaw.
For $15 this has to be one of the best buys in NYC for a steak.
This stuff is fork tender too. I was barely able to pick this up without it falling apart – that’s how soft it is!
Do yourself a favor and get this right away. 9/10.
My wife had the genius idea to pop all the items from the soft rib platter onto one of the LaFrieda homemade potato chips.
Pretty incredible! And wash it all down with fresh lemonade or iced tea from the taps.
PAT LAFRIEDA MEAT COUNTER
2 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10121
The Fat Monk has one of the most incredibly ambitious and delicious looking menus I’ve ever seen. Just about every item sounds unique and awesome, and I pretty much got to try them all.
Chef Rob McCue, who has been honing his art for 25 years, elevates American comfort food by using only the finest ingredients sourced via his close relationships with local artisans. He achieves the unexpected through molecular gastronomy, a style of cooking that you don’t often associate with American comfort cuisine.
And the unexpected delights are not limited to the food here, either. The cocktails are equally as exciting. Cory Goldstein, founder of Muddling Memories, put together an amazing cocktail menu.
We tried a whole bunch, but the standouts for me were the “Emma Stone’s a Ginger” (bourbon, peach, Lapsang Souchong tea, molasses, ginger beer, cookie “snack back”), “Say a Dirty Word” (barrel aged gin, vodka, house dirty brine, white pepper, chili oil, Boursin cheese stuffed olives), and “Paul Bunyan’s Flask” (rye, pine infused maple, Oloroso sherry, Bergamot bitters, apple wood smoke) cocktails. In fact, that’s the order in which I would recommend drinking them, the Emma to start the meal, the Dirty with your main course, and the Flask – which is a treat to see being served – with dessert.
Their PR person contacted me, and we arranged to bring in a crew of savage meat eating wackos to get down on all the tasty shit and post some pics of their joint on Instagram. So here’s what we had:
Oyster Escargot: Yeah – I know. Making you think a little, right? Oysters served with a parsley and pernod crust. Lovely.
Kale Caesar: Ours was more arugula and mixed greens than kale, which I was actually happy about. Kale is a bit woody for my liking. All that said, I didn’t even eat any salad. I had my sights set on tons of other delicious stuff.
Crispy Duck Wings: Crisp on the outside, super tender and fall-off-the-bone on the inside. Really amazing Thai/Viet flavor combo too from the sweet and tangy fish sauce glaze and scallions.
Double Cut Slab Bacon: This delicious shit tasted like spiral ham, but more bacony, if that makes any sense.
Deviled Eggs: That’s a “chicken-fried” oyster on top. The balance of textures here is what really sets this deviled egg apart from all the rest. It was a nice crisp against a velvety smooth egg.
Dungeness Crab Tater Tots: If these were around when I was a kid, I may have never found French fries. They’re like part carb cake, part tot. Really genius.
Shells & Cheese: Really nicely executed adult mac and cheese right here. Smoked bacon and fontina cheese make it decadent, but it’s not too rich to the point where you don’t want to touch your main courses after.
Scotch Egg: Perfection. Just really nicely done. Crispy outside, perfect slightly yolky egg inside. Again, great texture contrast.
Foie Gras Bratwurst: The ultimate mash-up of cheap eats and decadent eats, this is a bratwurst served in a hot dog style potato bun with foie gras, crispy onions and truffle mustard on top. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Delicious.
Schweinshaxe: Good luck trying to pronounce that shit, but I think it kinda sounds like you’re saying “swine shank” with your hand in your mouth, which makes sense considering what this is. Successfully speaking the name of this item is one thing, but I know you’ll succeed wildly at eating it. It’s a pork shank with a crispy-as-fuck skin on the outside and juicy-as-fuck meat on the inside. It’s served with spaetzle and cabbage.
Not a Ramen: This is an American fusion version of ramen. The broth is a beef bone consomme, and it’s served with a soft duck egg, a hunk of tender short rib, marrow and egg noodles. Obscenely good.
Duck Burger: This is actually quite lean, so if you’re trying to be mindful of fat intake, this might be the way to go for you. It still had a robust duck essence without being overly gamey. It’s topped with melted Emmenthaler cheese and shallot confit, and served with house cut fries.
Monk Burger: This was my favorite between the two burgers; a house blend patty topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, shaved red onion and house pickles, served with smoked ketchup and fries.
Fried Chicken Sandwich: I actually didn’t get to try this, but take a look at that amazing batter on the chicken! The chicken itself is breast meat, but it has been pickle-brined. Very inventive!
Bone In Rib Eye: Here we go! This baby was cooked to a perfect medium rare through both the eye and the cap. It also had a pretty decent char-crust on the outside. It was seasoned nicely with flake salt and pepper, and served with roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and seared exotic mushrooms (my guess is Hen of the Woods). 8/10.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: The bacon in this was thick cut style, and the smokey, sweet, meat flavor really permeated into the sprouts. Nice execution.
Seared Exotic Mushrooms: These also came with the steak, and were absolutely delicious. Earthy and savory.
House Cut Fries: The fries are pretty great! Usually I see thick fries like this and I’m immediately turned off. These were perfectly fried to a beautiful golden crisp, however, and nicely seasoned.
Also worth mentioning here is the homemade Irish Soda Bread that comes to the table at the beginning of the meal. Really good stuff.
You see how much shit I tried here?!?!? Well, I actually want to go back and try even more stuff. As I said, the menu is bonkers. Give this place a try. You won’t be disappointed.