Category Archives: American

Pat’s v. Geno’s

The classic Pat’s / Geno’s rivalry has been done to death, so I’m not going to write a treatise here. I’m gonna tell you how it is plainly: Both are highly overrated, but they’re worth hitting at least once just to do it.

My wife and I tried one sandwich from each place, the same exact way: cheesesteak with wiz. No onions, no mushrooms, no other cheeses. Why? I wanted to test the meats out. $10 each.

PAT’S

Pat’s gives you more meat and more cheese on a superior bread.

However, that meat is riddled with chewy wads of fat. I’m a champion of rib eye fat, but this was no bueno. We spit pieces out several times throughout the process of eating our respective halves. Also, the quality of the meat seemed a bit shitty. You can just taste it. I think they also cook too much at once, because it had a steamed, rubbery texture as opposed to a nice griddled crisp.

GENO’S

Geno’s has the better ambiance, if such a thing can even be assessed.

Geno’s also had better meat quality, although that quality was still sub par on the whole. On the other hand, Geno’s didn’t give enough cheese on the sandwich. Lame.

So each had a benefit and each had a negative, but both were overrated. I think these places suffer from too much business. They make so much quantity so far ahead of time to deal with crowds, that they lose quality in the process.

In the quest for cheesesteaks, I suggest hitting Shorty’s or Wogies here in NYC. They’re better than these two joints by far. A buddy who grew up outside of Philly tells me that the better cheesesteaks are found in local pizza shops anyway down there, and that Shorty’s and 99 Miles to Philly are apparently pretty close to the real thing here in NYC.

PAT’S
1237 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147

GENO’S
1219 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Feast

As many of you know, I occasionally gather with various friends to devour entire carcasses of animals. We call ourselves The Carcass Club. This latest “meating” went down at a joint aptly called Feast.

A buddy of mine, NYCFoodFomo, organized this as an Instagram influencer meal. It was on the house, given that we were going to glaze Instagram’s face with our “cam-shots” from this “pork-fest.”

I used “quotes” there so that you knew I was actually making a reference to something else besides food photos…

Anyway, here’s what you get at Feast, for just $75/pp:

First Courses

Flat bread with fried egg, smoked gouda, arugula and horseradish cream.

This was nice and crispy, and the arugula is even lightly dressed, which was very nice. This dish would make for a great breakfast, actually.

Brussels sprouts with lap cheong sausage, creme fraiche, grain mustard, dried cranberry and cider vinaigrette.

The sausage really works perfectly with the sprouts. Instead of the typical bacon, this swap for lap cheong was smart, because it has a similar meaty sweetness.

Second Courses

Suckling pig with gravy.

I was shocked at how well the flavor of their 24-hour brine penetrated the flesh of this 28lb pig. The meat really took on the peppercorn flavors. And one of their secrets is to use the whey byproduct from their homemade cheese making process as a tenderizer in that brine. So awesome.

They break the pig down for you and plate it into sections: head area, shoulder area, rib area, and ass/legs area. Apologies for not getting a shot of that stuff for you. It wasn’t super pretty, but it was pretty cool to see piles of meat and a pig skull.

Chicharrones with lime.

They also give you a bowl of the crispy fried skin, which some would say is the best part of the suckling pig.

Kabocha mac n’ cheese with gruyere and toasted pumpkin seed.

The sweetness of the pumpkin in this dish threw me off a bit. Perhaps I just needed to be in the Thanksgiving holiday zone to fully appreciate this one. Nonetheless, it was tasty.

Taro fries with miso aioli.

It’s always a challenge to get taro fries good and crispy. The sauce was excellent, but the fries themselves were more like mashed potato logs. Not a bad thing: just not crispy like a French fry.

Smoked mushrooms with a soy glaze.

These were fucking incredible. The smoke added such a great woodsy flavor to an already earthy and woodsy mushroom (oyster). This was my favorite item of the night.

Indochine ratatouille.

I’m generally not a huge fan of ratatouille, but this had some nice robust and savory flavors.

Dessert Course

Chef’s seasonal selection, which, during this visit, was a caramelized apple cobbler with cold maple whipped cream and pomegranate seeds. I think there was even some diced up zucchini mixed into this unique dessert.

That about does it. I highly recommend giving this feast a go. You’ll need a minimum of eight carnivores to take it down.

FEAST
102 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Bedford & Co.

My friend Jean invited me to Bedford & Co. for an Instagram infleuncer dinner, since she and a few others were going to be digging into a nice large format rib eye for two (along with other tasty items) and tasting a variety of wines for the restaurant’s “Wine Wednesday” pairings with their somm, Sarah.

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This 28-day dry-aged 40oz bone in rib eye from Master Purveyors is a “for two” steak, which comes with lardo, watercress and roasted garlic for $125. We were five, so we pigged out on other shit too.

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The prices of beef have certainly gone way up lately. I remember when I was chomping on 36-40oz steaks for one at half the price just a few years back. But hey, this one was free! Not gonna complain.

We were able to sneak into the kitchen to watch Chef Justin Neubeck and his team flame this baby up for us.

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But while we were waiting for that to finish cooking and then properly rest, we sparked up some scallops with pumpkin puree, kafir lime and roasted pumpkin seeds.

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This was a really interesting flavor combo, and I really liked it. The round sweetness of the pumpkin contrasted nicely with the acidic pop from the lime.

The entrees rolled out all at once, and the five of us Instagrammers went bonkers taking photos of everything.

The first thing I tried was the Long Island duck breast.

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Garnished with a scallion ginger oil, glazed with honey, and accompanied by a cranberry purée, this was easily one of the better duck breast dishes I’ve had in quite a while.

Berkshire pork chop was next.

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I’m hard to please when it comes to pork chops. My mom used to cook them in a glass covered electric skillet so that they were somehow juicy on the inside but crisp on the outside, and with onions, potatoes and cherry peppers. Very Italian, as I later discovered. With all that said, this was a pretty good version. It had a sour orange glaze and was served with pink winter squash and marinated radicchio.

The main event was that steak, though.

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A cut this thick is difficult to cook properly. Lots of times you’ll end up with some spots that are too rare, while the outside is overcooked. I have to hand it to these guys; they did a pretty solid job with this monster.

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As you might have noticed from the raw shot above, there wasn’t much of a fat cap on this baby, but what scraps were there after trimming was used to make the lardo, which was really nice. Also I feel like the 28-day dry aging was done masterfully (by Master Purveyors, no less). They really packed a ton of funk and earthiness for the minimal end of the aging process. 8/10.

Since this was essentially a carnivore party, we had to try the burger at this place. It has been getting a fair amount of attention on social media lately, and for good reason. Look at it, for fuck’s sake.

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This beauty is topped with bloomsday cheddar, caramelized onion and thick cut braised pork belly. So juicy. Get it when you come here, even if you have to split it with a group of people, like we did.

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And of course the fries are excellent as well, which are cooked with herbs right in the fryer oil.

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We did a pair of sides as well. Brussels with bacon and apple cider, and roasted wild mushrooms. These were dynamite! The roast on those sprouts was fantastic. Great texture and crisp. And the mushrooms were the perfect pairing with the earthy steak.

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Just when you thought we were full, the desserts came out. Chef Canty makes all the stuff in house. We got to try the carrot cake (my favorite of the three – so rich and delicious), cheesecake in a jar, and apple crostada.

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Definitely one of the best carrot cake renditions I’ve had in the city, right up there with Bob’s Steak & Chop House and Ocean Prime.

I definitely recommend this place to anyone who generally likes any of the shit that I got to try. All high quality, deftly executed shit.

BEDFORD & CO.
The Renwick
118 E 40th St
New York, NY 10016

The Bedford

My friend Nina from The Food Joy set up an event here at The Bedford as a way to gather up all the crazy Instagram influencers in one place for a post-holiday holiday party, and to provide some well-deserved promotion for this awesome Williamsburg gastro-pub.

I only sampled a few of the many items that came out, but everything I tasted was excellent.

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Let me get right down to business:

The Bedford Plank Burger is a grass-fed, custom blend patty, topped with grilled onions, garlic aioli, chili-ketchup and American cheese.

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Very simple construction with top level execution.

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This baby was so tasty. I will definitely be back for another one of these. It comes with an amazing side of crispy battered fries as well. This is an excellent buy at just $14.

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I also tried this open faced kielbasa sausage and egg sandwich.

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The sausage is split and grilled, then set on a bed of wilted spinach atop a slice of sourdough, with a smear of grain beer mustard on the plate for dipping. Great for breakfast!

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I also tried the ricotta gnocchi with roasted cherry tomatoes and chorizo. The sauce was creamy and tangy – very nice.

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Last but not least, beer braised pork shank!

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This was super tender, as you might expect. The outside had a good crisp as well. Great quality meat from the Niman ranch.

I also tried the mint julep creme brulee, which was very creamy and interesting (I didn’t shoot it). However I did shoot these two items, which I did not try: flatbread and dandelion salad.

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I definitely recommend this place. Not only is the food good, but the cocktail and beer menu is very nice too.

THE BEDFORD
110 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11249

The House

Pulsd was running a flash deal for this joint so my wife picked it up. The deal gave us a bottle of wine, a shared app, two entrees and a shared dessert. Not bad for under $70.

Our app was this nice smoked duck salad. The duck was nicely cooked and the romaine lettuce was dressed just right, and garnished with walnuts, raspberries and persimmon.

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My wife picked the cassoulet for her entree. It sounded great; duck confit, wild boar sausage and lamb. However, the beans seemed to reign supreme. The meat was all shredded rather than left in chunks. It had a good smokey flavor, but the “baked beans” texture left a bit to be desired.

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I went with the Pat LaFrieda black Angus strip, for a $6 up charge.

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That’s a garlic and herb butter on top, and roasted fingerlings in the back. It wasn’t bad, but my first cut revealed a few lines of sinew that were really chewy and discouraging.

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Other cuts were better, as you’ll see below. but overall there was just too much chewy bits for my liking. Strips always have that one side with a hard line of gristle too. This was no exception. Flavor was nice, but it could have used a bit more seasoning and searing. 6/10.

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For dessert we went with a cheese plate that included five different styles. All were good.

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THE HOUSE
121 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003

Bonnie’s Grill

Demetri Kontakos, the owner of Bonnie’s Grill for the last two years, recently invited me into his establishment for a press review. Bonnie’s has been a Brooklyn staple for about 15 years and running. I had heard great things about Bonnie’s wings, so I was excited to hoof it out into Brooklyn and give them a shot.

I love a simple countertop style joint. No fuss, no glitz and glamour: just really good fucking food. Bonnie’s is exactly that kind of place.

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Some people get excited about a fancy joint with buttoned up waiters, candle light and white tablecloths. Not me. I get excited when I can see people working on my ticket right in front of me.

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And somehow I was a big Bills fan when I was a kid. Probably because they had an awesome looking bovine as their logo. And Bonnie’s is a proud Buffalo style establishment.

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Speaking of Buffalo: the wings. They get fried up to a really nice crisp here – none of that rubbery skin bullshit that you get from other places. And the sauce is really flavorful: you can get mild, medium, hot or hotter. I can take a lot of heat; in fact I enjoy it. So next time I will be trying the hotter wings. This time we went with hot, and it didn’t have us tearing up and sucking down water.

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We did suck down a cream ale, though.

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These are a great bargain at just $3.50, but if canned beer isn’t your thing, every weekday from 4pm-7pm is happy hour, where drafts are just $4, and they run three or four pretty good handles.

But back to all things Buffalo… Check out this gem: beef on weck!

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I love regional food quirks. Beef on weck is one of those quirks that hails from Buffalo, or western New York, generally. Essentially, what you have here is sliced roast beef with horseradish and some meat juice on a kummelweck roll (kaiser style, with fennel seeds and coarse grain salt on top).

Anyway this fucker was pure and simple. You can mess with it a little if you want, and add jalapeños and cheddar, but then you’re screwing with the integrity of a traditional sandwich.

And speaking of traditional, by now most of you know how I like my burgers: simple, nothing fancy. The classic American cheeseburger reigns supreme. So that’s what I got here.

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The patty is 80/20 lean/fat, so the masters at Bonnie’s develop a really great crisp on the outside of the burger. The cheese melts down so nicely and surrounds the patty with even more crisp.

There’s a ton of free toppings you can go with. I went with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and jalapeños. By the way: cheese is even a free topping here. But the kicker for me was that these guys kinda read my mind when it comes to the toppings. Notice how thin the tomato and onion slices are? I hate when the toppings end up making a burger eight inches tall. This was perfect.

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And speaking of perfect… the fries!

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Golden and crisp, and deftly seasoned with salt. And the chipotle mayo is a great way to enjoy them.

Another side I tried was the soup of the day, which was lentil and sweet corn. Very hearty and soulful.

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I can’t say enough positive things about this place. I just wish it was closer to my apartment! I’m near Central Park and this is near Prospect Park. But I highly recommend this place. So freaking good, and the staff are all really nice – ask for Alex and Rick when you go.

BONNIE’S KITCHEN
278 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Betony

My wife and I learned that Betony was closing at the end of 2016, so we rushed in to finally give it a shot. It’s been on our list for a while but we never got around to trying it, despite living just a few blocks away.

We did the two course prix fix for $42, but my wife started with this interesting parsnip foam and scotch cocktail. So interesting.

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The tables are adorned with this olive oil crisp stuff that is addictive.

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Then comes the tasty and warm dill bread with a honey yogurt butter, and right around that time the waiter will bring out the amuse, which was a black truffle tea. So aromatic and delicious.

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My wife started with the fluke carpaccio. This was killer. The flavors really popped here due to the Indian lime and cilantro pickling that they worked on it.

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I went with the toasted grains and sprouts with labneh (Lebanese cream cheese / strained yogurt).

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A bit girly for my style, but I really enjoyed it and it was a substantial portion size. Plus I didn’t want to double up on lettuce greens or potato (the other app choices) since I know those were coming in my entree.

My entree was tenderloin, which was sous vide to a perfect medium rare prior to being charcoal crisped on the outside.

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It came with roasted fingerlings, grilled romaine, and a lettuce and tomato puree.

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I honestly wasn’t convinced that this was in fact a tenderloin, but I’ll go with what the menu said. I would have guessed a sirloin, due to the texture and shape, but it was really great nonetheless. Only down side: could have used a little more char on the outside. 8/10.

My wife went with the poached egg cavatelli. This was tossed with crisp crosne, aka “Chinese Artichokes” (and sometimes even “Japanese Artichokes”).

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The dish was more like a soup in terms of consistency once you popped the egg. Not really my speed, but the pasta was perfect, the sauce/broth was really tasty, and the portion size was good.

We skipped dessert because we were stuffed, but I’m sad to see this place close. Too bad we hadn’t come sooner. Pricey, but good.

BETONY
41 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

The Black Derby

I came here with a group of food influencers for a Woodford Reserve promotional event hosted by Gotham Burger Social Club.

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At first, I thought I was just going to taste some cocktails made with Woodford, but it turned out to be a nice sit-down meal. As a result, I am offering my sincere apologies for these shitty photos that I had to snap with my phone.

The joint is classy inside, and the walls are lined with derby hats as lights. Of course, I wore my derby hat to fit the scene.

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The food here is top notch, and the manager, Nick, is a great guy. In the future he may do some large format “beast feasts” on the menu. I’m really looking forward to that. But let me get down to what we sampled.

Spicy steak tartare. This stuff is good! But the chilies will knock you on your ass if you aren’t equipped to handle the heat like a real man. I loved this dish.

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Crispy calamari. Amazing crunch on these, so perfectly cooked.

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Double cut bacon. Very nice braised texture. Really awesome.

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Loved the side addition of pickles on the plate as well.

Now on to the entrees. We tried their burger, which is nicely customizable in terms of cheeses and toppings. The patty is nice and thick, but the burger doesn’t feel too tall or large. It eats neat too, and the flavors are dynamite.

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Chicken parm with bolognese sauce. Wow! Beef and chicken living in harmony together.

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Nick sources his beef from DeBragga and LaFrieda, so whatever he is offering will be excellent quality. He even offers a culotte on occasion. On this night, there were two different cuts of steak frites offerings. The first of two steak frites: the hanger with chimichurri sauce.

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This baby was cooked so perfectly. Nice and tender inside, pink all the way, with a nice charred crisp on the outside.

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The strip steak frites was deceivingly great. I thought for sure I was going to like the hanger better, but the sauce on this was perfect.

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These pics don’t do it justice, but the cook temp on the strip was proper. It looks like medium but it was really somewhere between medium and medium rare.

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Both of these come in at a strong 8/10, but if you want a 9 or 10 point experience, you should order the hanger steak frites with the au poivre sauce rather than the chimichurri. That combination is fucking incredible.

Dessert is on point too. We tried creme brûlée, apple pie and cookies. No idea how I had room for dessert, but somehow I managed. Probably because this shit was delicious.

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I highly recommend this place. It just opened a few weeks ago or a month or two ago, and the menu changes up from time to time depending on whats good and fresh. The prices are very affordable and the quality is excellent.

THE BLACK DERBY
310 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10014

The Anthony

I was invited to newly opened The Anthony by my buddy Mike from Gotham Burger Social Club for a special tasting dinner with some other influencers and Instagrammers. We sampled a massive portion of the menu, and everything was pretty much fantastic. Let me get right into it for you hungry savages…

First, the cocktail menu is excellent. I tried this “Matador” drink, made with mezcal, lime, cilantro and spicy habanero honey – it was dynamite.

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To start, we had a cheese and meat board, with my favorite olives: Castelvetranos!

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Then some French onion fondue. This was really unique and flavorful.

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We also did some fried oysters, which were breaded to a perfect crisp and served in refreshing lettuce cups.

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But the star of the apps, though, were these mini char siu pork belly and liver mousse banh mi sandwiches. Holy shit! I could eat a dozen (two minis per order).

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While this item is listed as a starter, it can probably be consumed as a main if you order the banh mi to start. Duck confit and waffles.

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Fuck what you think you know about chicken and waffles. This is the way to do it.

On the side we did some cacao e pepe fries, which were really nicely cooked and golden brown.

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Some lobster mac and cheese, which was really nice as it was made with thick cavatappi / fusilli rigate (ridged).

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And some Asian style sautéed greens (broccolini / Chinese broccoli).

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Okay now let me get into the meat of the review. I’ll tackle the burgers first. We tried two: an off menu “Tavern Burger,” and the “Tony Prime.” Nice name, right? Maybe he iso a long lost brother of mine or something. He must be, because he is made of aged beef and a special house made creamed spinach cheese. Say whaaat?!??!

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Yup. That’s right – they make it in house by combining creamed spinach with cheese, spreading it out flat and thin, cooling it down to let it congeal, and then slicing it out  into individual cheese sliced for this incredible burger.

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This has to be one of my new favorite burgers in town. It’s so unique and special. It actually tastes like steak! Amazing. And so does the Tavern Burger, which is topped with a nice melty gruyere and arugula.

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We also tried the brick chicken. This had a great crispy top from the cooking process. I think it just suffered a bit and got too dry. I honestly don’t mind dry chicken from time to time, as long as there is a sauce to go with. Otherwise it was excellent.

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We also hit this pork chop pretty hard. Really nice spice and herb mix going on here, and a very tasty glaze.

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Underneath this 12oz Berkshire chop is a bacon and apple potato cake, and on top are caramelized onions.

And now for the champion. The 28-day dry aged 40oz tomahawk rib eye.

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This was truly a sight to behold.

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I got more funk and flavor from this 28-day steak than I have from 60-day chops. It was absolutely wonderful.

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It seemed a bit small for 40oz (and $140), but then again the bone was pretty big, as was the flavor. I was hoping for a bit more cap, but what I did taste was great. It was nicely cooked, well rested with no bleed-out, and it sported a nice outer crisp. 8/10.

I didn’t think any of us had room for dessert, but apparently humans are equipped with a second stomach that’s just for dessert.

First, this berry mousse. Very light and flavorful.

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Next, an apple pie style tart. Great hits of cinnamon and brown sugar here. Cold ice cream and hot pie – perfect combo.

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And chocolate cake, because why the fuck not.

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This was really a great meal. The biggest standouts for me, for which I will definitely go back, are the burgers, the banh mi and the duck waffles. I recommend you do the same.

THE ANTHONY
183 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012

Bespoke Kitchen

The concept behind Bespoke Kitchen is a totally custom dining experience that’s different every time. The idea is simple: aside from about a dozen starter items, you choose from four proteins and whether you want your protein to have rich or light flavors. The alternative is to leave the entree completely up to the chefs with a secret protein. There are several chefs, too, by the way. All have different culinary backgrounds, but all are incredibly talented and well-experienced.

When I was here for an influencer event via their PR group, NYC Restaurant, organized by The Dishelin Guide, the available proteins were rib eye, branzino, sea bass or duck. The secret protein turned out to be lamb on this night, but I didn’t get to try any. It did look beautiful though:

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Let me get back to the starters though. We tried a bunch, so I will just fire them off with some commentary to go with each.

STARTERS

Diver Scallops:

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These were pretty good. They were halved scallops served atop a bed of spaghetti squash, hen of the woods mushrooms and pine nuts. The outside was seared and caramelized just right, leaving the meat supple and juicy inside.

Bacon Tasting:

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Thick cut belly, maple bacon and lamb bacon graced this beautiful natural wood platter of pork. My favorite was the lamb, not only because it is delicious but because it is a rare gem to find on any menu here in the city.

Bacon Dumplings:

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Why the fuck not? These were like cheddar and bacon Totino’s pizza rolls, only elevated and in a nicer wrapper.

Mixed Ceviche:

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Light and refreshing, this bowl contained fluke, octopus and shrimp, with a side of sweet potato chips.

Short Rib Gnocchi:

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The gnocchi were light but with a crispy coating on them, and the short rib was rich and extremely flavorful. Big fan of this dish.

Grilled Octopus:

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This was really well executed. The tentacle was very tender, and the squid ink balsamic on the plate was perfect for smearing onto the purple potatoes. Check out my buddy Ben’s awesome shot of it:

A photo posted by Ben Hon (@stuffbeneats) on

My other crappy pic:

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ENTREES

Each protein comes as a fully composed meal, complete with a starch and a veggie. Naturally, I went with the rib eye. I also tried some of the duck.

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The rib eye was really juicy and succulent, with lots of nice beefy flavor. While there wasn’t much cap present, the eye was delicious. I score it at a nice 8/10. Two other rib eyes were ordered in our group, and each one was plated differently, with different veggies. One even had a poached egg on top!

But check out this duck!

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The fat could have used some better rendering, to get that rubbery quality out completely, but that is a tough challenge to accomplish on a breast while still maintaining a good medium rare cook temperature. I was fine with trimming the fat away and munching on that beautiful pink breast meat.

DESSERT

Burrata Cheesecake:

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This delight is made in house, which is very impressive being it is a burrata cheese. It was super creamy and light, served with graham cracker crumble and an apple caramel. It was simple and delicious.

Cinnamon Bun:

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This was really tasty, and my favorite of the desserts. It was a soft cake inside, some good crisp outside, and lots of ooey gooey dolce de leche glaze on top.

Chocolate Pudding:

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This lacked sweetness, and almost tasted as if it was sugarless or “diet” – not fake sugar, but NO sugar, or LOW sugar. I didn’t mind so much, since I don’t have a huge sweet tooth to begin with, but some other diners expressed dissatisfaction. I did get that cocoa flavor from it, though, and the texture was nice and smooth.

Butternut Squash Ice Cream:

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This was really interesting, and at first I didn’t think I’d like it, based on the description. Imagine candied yams in an ice cream format, but without that horrible starchy texture. It was similar to that flavor. I was oddly attracted to this, so I just kept going back to it over and over. That must mean it was a success.

I definitely recommend coming to this joint. Every meal you eat here will be different, even if you and your table-mates order the same exact thing at the same exact time. It’s kind of fun, new, exciting and adventurous. I’m happy to see something unique like this in NYC.

BESPOKE KITCHEN
615 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014