Category Archives: American

The Saratoga

This nicely appointed San Francisco eatery serves up some pretty fun grub.

We tried a bunch of stuff, so let me get right down to business.

Toga Tots

These brick-like tots were stacked, Jenga style. They had an awesomely crisp outside and a soft, mashed potato-esque inside. Topped with cheddar, chorizo and cilantro. Perfect.

Seven Spice Chicken Slider

These were pretty good. I really liked the Alabama white sauce and dill pickles.

Cubano Frank

This wonderful mashup between a Cuban sandwich and a hot dog was my favorite dish of the meal. Slow roasted pork, swiss cheese and spiced relish.

The Saratoga Burger

This baby was served with taleggio cheese and slaw on an onion bun. Pretty good! But after coming off of a Causwell’s burger high, we weren’t blown away.

Dry-Aged Flannery Beef NY Steak

For years I’ve heard great things about Flannery Beef. I had high hopes. This was really tough. I think they served us a hanger steak too – not a NY strip (I even asked and they confirmed NY strip). No way. I know beef texture and this was more like hanger and not remotely like striploin. The sauce was good but the beef was difficult to eat. 4/10.

Tomato Braised Tuscan Kale

Not my cup of tea here. Probably should have ordered the mushrooms or spring peas instead. This tasted like heartburn in each bite.

Ho Hos

These were fun! Definitely tasted just like a classic ho ho, but much better and elevated. Winner.

Chartreuse

The staff was awesome here. The owner saw that we were all taking pics for Instagram so he gave us a round of yellow and green chartreuse on the house. We barely touched them, however, since none of us particularly liked either of them. Bitter, and tasted like cough medicine. I realize this spirit is an acquired taste though, and I respect that this joint has one of the largest collections of chartreuse available in the world. Pretty cool. Just not my taste.

Their cocktails, however, are delicious. Here’s a shot of the Vieux Carre, which was delicious:

THE SARATOGA
1000 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

YAKS on the 5

This roadside dining spot was referred to us by the folks at Belcampo Meat Camp as a fun place for good burgers.

We tried their famous warm sticky bun first. This was deadly delicious.

Next up, some wings. I thought these were a little on the sweet side, but I appreciated the smoke flavor.

We tried the jalapeno and cheddar burger, which was really tasty despite looking like pure foodporn. Loved the addition of ranch here to cool it down, and the local beef happened to come from a guy’s family farm who we just met (he now works for Belcampo now, but this place uses his family’s grass finished beef). Great beef.

The cajun brown sugar tots were strangely addictive! I could not stop popping them.

YAKS ON THE 5
4917 Dunsmuir Avenue
Dunsmuir, CA 96025

TAK Room

My wife took me to Thomas Keller’s new Hudson Yards eatery, TAK Room, for my birthday. This meal was pretty awesome, so let me get right down to business.

Cocktails

This place has a great selection of classics, spins on classics, and new style cocktails. I went with the “Old Hat” old fashioned. I liked it, but both my wife and I liked her order better (Waldorf Vieux Carre)

We both remarked that the cocktail pricing wasn’t too rapey. And it’s worth noting here that the bar and lounge area is seriously impressive. The bar is backed by windows, offering an impressive view. There’s plenty of lounge style seating near the bar, where you can drink, snack and enjoy the live music on the stage.

Table Bread & Crudite

This was a nice touch; the crudite was cold and fresh, and that butter extruder thing is becoming insta-famous. There are two varieties of delicious house made breadsticks as well.

Green Garlic Agnolotti, Razor Clams, Gremolata

Strong opener, and an easy contender for my best pasta dishes of 2019. It almost had an oreganata flavor to it, with a great balance of textures.

Beef Tartare

This had some freshly shaved horseradish on top of the raw egg yolk, and was really nicely executed.

Prime Rib Cart Service

Take a look at this video of the prime rib service cart:

That’s Snake River Farms domestic wagyu cross, highly marbled and riddled with intense flavor.

This is easily one of the best prime rib orders I’ve ever had. At $110, I would bark about it being too expensive, but it really was worth every forkful. 10/10.

Short Rib Beef Wellington

Check this out:

A beautiful specimen. The short rib was snappy, but super tender.

The puff pastry was perfectly cooked from end to end. Perfect execution.

The only thing I disliked about it was the perigourdine sauce. It had a bitter and almost burnt flavor to it. Luckily that was poured on the side rather than on top of the dish. 9/10.

Champagne Cake, Strawberry Creamsicle Ice Cream

This was a pretty tasty special for dessert (not on the menu), and they generously gave us a couple of glasses of rose champagne to go with it, on the house. Here’s the dessert menu:

Box of Caramel Corn

This comes with your dessert, for the table. Jumbo size pops, very few kernels. Highly addictive.

Views, Decor & Service

Last but not least, one can’t really do a proper review of a joint like TAK Room without speaking about the views, decor and service.

The outer rim of the gorgeous dining room overlooks “The Vessel,” the new scalable art structure in Hudson Yards.

The decor is like a cross between 60’s mod and 20’s art deco. It’s truly beautiful. The service matches the spectacular views and decor, with an impeccably neat, attentive and genuinely nice wait staff. We even saw the likes of Thomas Keller himself, doing one of the prime rib cart services, with Geoffrey Zakarian watching from afar:

One of the managers gave us a quick kitchen tour too, which was really interesting to see. The place is immaculately clean, and they showcase their selection of premium meats in a glass cabinet near the kitchen entrance. Listen carefully for specials, as they were offering cote de boeuf rib eyes at varying sizes.

In summary, this was one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and I look forward to going back to try more beef and even their roast chicken for two. We just need to save up a little bit, because this place is pricey. All in, this meal was $467 with tax and tip. Woof. Here’s a look at some of the pricing:

TAK ROOM
20 Hudson Yards
5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Rainbow Room Macallan Dinner Pairing

My wife and I went to the Rainbow Room/Bar Sixty Five as guests of our friend who was hosting a special Macallan scotch cocktail pairing dinner.

The meal started with this “Breakfast for Dinner” cocktail that had some bubbles, blueberry and, of course, Macallan scotch. The garnish was actually blueberries and pancakes. Kinda cool.

This was paired with the two appetizers that my wife and I shared, scallops and peekytoe crab toast.

Next up was this vanilla, ginger beer and scotch cocktail that was garnished with a fresh sprig of rosemary. This tasted like cream soda.

Naturally, this paired nicely with the burger and steak entrees.

The hanger was great. 9/10. Super tender and flavorful despite being grass finished.

The burger was a monster. It was unwieldy to eat as a whole, so I pretty much ate each component separately.

To start off the dessert items, we had this really special drink called The Sixth Borough:

This delicious smoked cocktail is made with rare cask Macallan, 50-60 year old amaro and bitters, charcoal and rosemary. It’s stir-chilled with an ice sphere and then dropped into an ornate gold filigree glass from a chandelier platform that’s a replica of the iconic Rainbow Room. What a special treat!

That paired nicely with the Baked Alaska that I had. My wife had the cheesecake with apple sorbet. I obviously had a taste, and it was delicious as well.

RAINBOW ROOM / BAR SIXTY FIVE
30 Rockefeller Plaza
65th Floor
New York, NY 10112

The Modern

My wife and I came here for our 10th wedding anniversary.

We did the six course chef’s tasting menu. But first we started with some nice cocktails.

We did the groundskeeper and the terracotta navy. Here’s what’s in them:

The first thing to come out was this interesting tartlet amuse that had some sort of cheese and mushrooms inside a tiny pie crust.

The bread service consisted of a nice rosemary focaccia and small buns of pretzel bread.

The first of the six courses was their egg on egg on egg. Custard, yolk and caviar with a toasted brioche stick. Really delicious and easily a top dish for the year.

Next was this snapper crudo/tartare preparation.

Another top dish for the year goes to this foie gras tart with strawberries. Both white/green strawberries (tart) and red (sweet). A perfect dish in every way, with some meringue and tart strawberry salsa on top. Really nicely balanced between savory and sweet.

Next up was the first of the main proteins; the sea bass with mushroom in minestrone broth. Really light and flavorful, and it came with a pasta made from noodle-ized celtuse root.

This five-spiced, dry-aged Long Island duck was the winner for the mains though. Beautifully tender with lots of flavorful punch from the Thai basil puree and leaves.

Along with our complimentary anniversary cupcake (pictured above), they brought us a dessert amuse of mango fruit leather and ice cream, made to look like dim sum.

And finally, our dessert was this nice pistachio cake with lemon ice cream, white chocolate, balsamic reduction and some crumble.

We really enjoyed this meal. It was hefty in price, but we truly loved every dish. Also this is a no-tipping restaurant. Here’s the William:

THE MODERN
9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

The Ribbon

The Ribbon is a neighborhood bar and restaurant that serves up an impressive list of chops and roasts. The place is very popular with families, and you’ll see a ton of parents with their kids in there on weekends during the day. In fact I think my table was the only one in the back of the restaurant that didn’t have a child at it (aside from my immature ass, of course).

My wife and I started with cocktails. I enjoyed this Ol’ Thyme Gin, which had pear, thyme infused gin, amaro and lemon.

The Mr. Pimm was light and refreshing, pairing gin with cucumber, lemon, mint syrup and elderflower.

We started the steamed clams and a trio of pate, all of which were excellent. I was just hoping for a little heat with the clams since I saw “peppers” in the ingredient list. Probably just minced bells. The chorizo in there was nice though.

For our mains, we had the two prime ribs on the menu; pork and beef.

The pork was a little bit dry, but the apricot jam was a great way to get the juices flowing.

The 16oz king cut prime rib was great.

Nicely roasted to medium rare. I’m sick of ordering this dish and having it come to me raw and difficult to chew. They do it correctly here. It’s served with a nice jus and a light horseradish cream sauce. At $61 this may seem steep, but there’s no waste on it. Even the jiggly fat bits are edible. 8/10.

On the side we had some sauteed broccolini, which was a nice way to cut the fat.

And for dessert we shared the chocolate chip bread pudding (it comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). This had a nice brulee crunch to it on the edges, which made for a good mix of textures.

I definitely recommend this place, and I’ll be going back there to try more shit for sure. Here’s the William, FYI:

THE RIBBON
20 W 72nd St
New York NY, 10023

Boston Market Rotisserie Prime Rib

This is NOT a belated April Fools joke. I actually went to Boston Market to try their “21 days aged” rotisserie prime rib. The anticipation was building ever since I saw an ad for it in my neighborhood.

I live sorta close to one.

At $16.99 with two sides and cornbread, how bad can it be? The answer: not fucking bad at all! First of all, in a weird way, it was kinda beautiful. I ordered it just like what I saw in the picture, with string beans and mashed potatoes.

I was expecting something revolting, but what I got was really nicely crusted on the edges, with great peppery and savory flavors. The meat itself was good quality, and cooked pretty nicely for a chain fast food joint. I would definitely get this again, especially since it’s a third of the price of many expensive steak joints that just don’t get this dish right. So many places serve a chewy, undercooked, inferior product (despite using superior meats). 7/10. Well played, Boston Market. You have my respect, and my repeat business. Mainly because you gave me a BOGO coupon with my receipt, making a great deal even better.

Somehow, though, I suspect that this might be a hit and miss kind of item across all other locations. I guess we’ll see. Here’s where I got it:

BOSTON MARKET
885 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Houseman

I saw some Instagram photos of a great looking burger from this joint, so I had to go check it out.

The Houseman burger is a double patty with melted swiss, griddled onions and mushrooms, all cooked perfectly and slapped in a toasted potato bun.

Really flavorful, and dangerously easy to crush two or three of these in one sitting. For $20 it comes with fries, and you can get a $2 beer with it as an add on. Great deal.

HOUSEMAN
508 Greenwich St
New York, NY 10013

Chumley’s

I finally made it into the “new” Chumley’s to try the burger. Despite my depression over the massive change this place underwent, the joint is still really cool. I’m also happy it’s back open after all that time being shuttered.

But it no longer feels like a bar. It feels like a restaurant, and the menu reflects that.

As you can see from the menu description, this baby is rocking bone marrow, crispy shallots, “Chumley’s sauce,” and good old American cheese. The burger itself is two large patties. Although it’s a bit unwieldy to eat with your hands, it’s huge on flavor. It was absurdly delicious. Rich, heavy, and robustly flavorful.

 

The marrow really adds a depth of beefiness that’s unrivaled in other burgers, and the Chumley’s sauce tastes almost like a gravy of sorts. I think this would be fine as a single patty, but at $29 you’re certainly getting your money’s worth. Especially considering that they give you a mountain of delicious, golden-crisp French fries that have been tossed in beef fat after they come out of the fryer. Awesome.

This burger is definitely worth getting.

CHUMLEY’S
86 Bedford Street
New York, NY 10014

Tambour Bistro & Wine Bar

Tambour Bistro and Wine Bar is a cool spot that serves up some great Mediterranean style eats in Brooklyn. They have a great deal going on: for $120 you get an appetizer, a dry-aged porterhouse steak from Romeo Brothers (Bensonhurst meat shop), a side and a dessert.

My wife and I came in to try this stuff out. Here’s what we had.

First, some nice wines. I had a Rioja and my wife had a white that I can’t pronounce.

The mussels here are incredible. Make sure you ask for a spoon to slurp up the sauce at the bottom of the bowl. There’s white wine, roasted chili peppers and herbs in that crack sauce.

This arugula salad was simple and refreshing, with kalamata olives, feta cheese, pickled shallots, English cukes and marinated baby tomatoes.

Next up was the main event: a 70-day dry-aged porterhouse, served Florentine style, with charred lemons and rosemary.

This thing was a real beauty. Perfectly cooked with that great brown Maillard crust on it.

There was a lot of earthy funk on this from the aging process, so wiping an occasional bite across the charred lemon was a great way to cut the fat and funk with a pop of brightness.

We finished every bite. I highly recommend this steak. 9/10.

On the side we had the asparagus with crumbled parmesan cheese. That’s an Italian chimichurri sauce in the back. Basil, oregano, lemon, etc. Great with the steak actually.

For dessert, we had this perfectly executed creme brûlée.

This baby was big, creamy and flavorful.

I will definitely be back here to try their bacon as well as some other cuts of steak. I suggest you give it a shot too, especially if you live in the area.

TAMBOUR BISTRO & WINE BAR
652 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215